Creative Distraction

Quinn and Zinnie’s reenactment of American Gothic, an iconic painting from the 1930s.

My daughter Emily and her family are finding clever ways to endure the lockdown. They have had their spa days, their dinner parties with the neighbors over the fence (passing dishes back and forth with a basket rigged up on a pulley) and some photography fun. Still, the kids are getting a little tired of being so far away from their classmates. They start school next week, although it certainly won’t be the same as before. They will be required to stay inside their little prescribed space, marked out on the floor, all day long.

I don’t feel the limitations too keenly. I have my own creative activities to keep occupied and days go past so quickly that I rarely have a moment to wonder what to do with myself.

I start my day with a bowl of fresh fruit and orange juice, pretty as well as delicious. At the moment, blood oranges are in season, making the juice extra special. After some aerobics via YouTube, I head down to the atelier where various projects await my attention.

Seasonal fruit is a perfect way to start the day.

In the garden the bee balm is in bloom. I got out my eco-dyeing supplies the other day, which had been untouched all winter. But bee balm makes such a predictably nice blue image, so before they bloomed out, I printed up a few.

Eco-dyed image on paper of wild bergamot, also known as bee balm.

Meanwhile I am back working on some relief printing. Instead of the reduction printing technique I have been experimenting with recently, I decided to work on a woodblock print with separate plates for each color. The nice thing about reduction printing is that everything naturally registers because you only have the one plate. The problem I found with it, however, is that the ink gets so thick on the paper. I wanted to try the more traditional multi-plate technique, but find a reliable way to register all the colors. I discovered a nice system that utilizes wooden pegs. The paper is per-punched with holes which can be put in the wooden pegs on each plate to guarantee the same placement for each color on the paper. The key block plate is printed first on paper and then transferred to each additional plate so that the blocks are also registered with one another. Rick kindly made up a nice rig for me. He is also carving the blocks, which I appreciate very much!

Transferring the key block image from paper to plate to ensure accurate registration.

We got this first color printed this weekend. The registration is pretty good. We still have a lot to learn. Since I seem to be so promiscuous with my art techniques, I am always in the learning stage. But I suppose I must prefer that. Mastery seems out of reach. For this one, there are still three colors to go. It isn’t turning out as I had imagined and hoped, but we will keep working on it.

First color (after the key block).

I am quite spoiled by having Rick available so much of the time. I am taking advantage of his good nature and requesting all kinds of upgrades to the atelier. This week he built me a fabulous new easel contraption in about an hour and it is just marvelous to work on.

Easel with two shelves for watercolor as well as oil painting.

Twice a week I meet with the grandchildren on FaceTime to do art class. We have made a color wheel. some simple shading exercises, cartoon characters and various other drawing projects.

Some pages from the kid’s expanding sketchbooks.

Weather this week has been a little less warm but the flowers continue to burst into bloom both on the terrace and in the garden.

Two rose varieties blooming on the terrace.
Peony bouquet from the garden.

One thought on “Creative Distraction

  1. One wonders how one signs up for art classes with Nancy Ann?? Those kids are so cute! Happy Mother’s day!
    And Rick, what a delight that guy is!
    Love this!


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