Monday, April 2, 2018

Little Trees Quilt

I finished my first quilting project of 2018 this week!  I really have not been doing much sewing since we moved to the mountains, but finally I have unpacked everything in the basement studio and uncovered the Gammill longarm.

Little Trees quilt, Jeanne Turner McBrayer

I paper-pieced these trees for another project back in the nineties.  My mother-in-law had painted her kitchen and asked for a wall quilt to go over the breakfast nook.  I bought a pattern and made lots of these little trees and some very nice flying geese blocks.  Then she said, "Never mind, I bought a wreath to go on the wall."  End of project.

Until we rearranged our living room last week.  We got some new furniture and found a place for a nice reproduction wooden ice chest between our recliners.  New problem:  when the cabinet was pulled away from the wall, we discovered this on the back.

So, it was either paint it, decoupage, or cover it up.  I looked in vain for a small quilt already made that would work on the back of the cabinet.  So, I put together the little trees.  

It was gratifying to dust and oil up the Gammill and crank it up with good results after almost a year.  It had to spend a week outside under the front porch last year when they installing the basement floor.  Other than a little dirt on the wheels, it seems to be fine.

If I get tired of looking at little pine trees, I can turn the quilt over use the side with cute little owls.

This week we have our grandsons here for Spring break.  We drove to Charlotte to pick them up.  This weekend their parents will come for the weekend.  It is nice to have them here.  Here they are at our local cafe, waiting for their breakfast to arrive.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Facial Features Study

Today I tried painting facial features with watercolor, following Kelly Eddington's Part 3 workshop on Strathmore Artist Workshops.

First we created our own toned paper using a pinkish blend of paint.  I am working in my Strathmore Watercolor Visual Journal.

After drawing from some reference photos, we chose one dark color, and began painting.  I used Payne's Gray, which I rarely use, but wanted to try for this exercise.

In this workshop, there are written instructions to go along with a fast-paced video.  I had to stop the video again and again, and wished it could progressed more slowly.  

This is what my page looked like before the final step, which was to add highlights with white acrylic paint.  I also darkened some of the areas with more Payne's Gray.

Facial Features, work in progress

This was a great lesson on painting eyes, noses, and mouths.  I think I will continue practicing!

The other lesson from this workshop was painting shiny gumballs.  We used masking fluid to preserve some of the shiny highlights on the balls.

Gumball Study

Last weekend we went to Asheville, North Carolina, to celebrate Charlie's birthday and visit with friends and family.  Asheville was in full bloom, unlike our more northern mountains. 

 We visited several of the area breweries and also the Biltmore House.  The costumes from the movie Titanic are on display in the rooms of the mansion.  The exhibit is well done, with manikins, great signage, and gorgeous flower arrangements.  It was a good weekend.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Transparency Studies

The Doodlewash watercolor prompt for today is "Transparent."  That was a great topic for me, as I have struggled with portraying clear glass.  I purchased a poster called "Painting the Illusion of Glass Vessels"  from Robert Burridge studios,  and spent the afternoon trying to follow his suggestions.

Transparency studies, Robert Burridge lessons
I was not wild about any of these studies, but one of my favorites was the martini glass.

 Here is a clear vase of bright flowers.

Flowers in clear vase
 And a clear glass of something clear.
Clear Glass

Clear Vase of Flowers 

I think I should practice doing a transparency study every day until I get the hang of it.  Great prompt!

We ended up with seven inches of snow yesterday, and the power off for seven hours.  Thankfully, it was restored before dark.  We had a nice Gator ride across the mountain in the snow.

This is our dog Kasey and my sister's dog Daisy enjoying the snow in their fur coats.

Our neighbor across the road has a couple of horses who came down to visit.

It is supposed to snow again tonight.  I am done with it...don't want any more!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bible Art Journaling

 Here are two new journal pages in my interleaved Bible.  The pages with the dove may be my new favorite.  We surely need more messages of peace in this world.

2 Thessalonians 3:16

The current series at my church is on "finding your cave" and communicating with God...and listening for his answer.

1 Kings 19:13

Our pastor says that the sound of God's presence at the cave was like the sound of snow falling.  

We can relate this morning!  Five inches of March snow so far.  I was supposed to head out at 8:15 to go to physical therapy for my ankle, but I canceled.  No need to break my ankle or wreck my car trying to get to rehab!

This is what it looked like when I got up.  That is my driveway going down on the right...and if I slid off, there is a pond on one side and a creek right below!  Nope, I am not enough of a mountain woman yet to venture out in this mess.  But it is beautiful!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Pears, anyone?

Pear Studies, Jeanne Turner McBrayer

I recently joined an online watercolor forum called Doodlewash.  One of the features is a prompt for a daily painting exercise.  Yesterday's was "saturated."  

I decided to use saturated color to do some pear studies a la Bob Burridge.  He offers a weekly online tutorial every Monday he calls "Bob Blasts," and he has often featured pears as his quick warm-up study subject.

Bob uses acrylic paint on most of his Bob Blast paintings, but I tried to use his technique with watercolor.  He does a lot of negative painting around his bright subject matter.  That is a little harder to do in watercolor, but I am pretty happy with these three pears.  I used his color wheel to make the colors pop.

Edited note:  Bob Blast 193 on March 12, 20012 is about painting pears!  And thank you to Bonnie Preslar for the lovely comment on this post.  I did not have your e-mail to send you a reply.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Painting Blossoming Trees on a Snowy Day

Strathmore Art Papers has just begun the first of its free online workshops for 2018.  The first is Realistic Watercolor for Beginners, with instructor Kelly Eddington.  I like to participate in these, and pick up whatever new tips I can glean.  You can register on the web page.  There is a video, materials list with instructions, student galleries, and forums for questions or discussion.

The first lesson is on using masking fluid to make apple blossoms on a tree.  I must admit that I do not like to take the time to apply mask and let it dry before painting, and I have never been very good at making the shapes I want with masking fluid.  Kelly suggested using a masking pen, so I have ordered one (Molotow GRAFX Masking Fluid Pump Marker).  Here is my first painting. It is actually on a Strathmore watercolor note card.

The brush I used to apply the masking fluid was small, but too soft, and the blossoms spread out more than I liked.

I did a second painting, putting apple trees into the scene that is outside my studio window here in the North Carolina mountains.  We have a Christmas tree farm across the street. I used masking fluid in the creek and on the rocks, as well, 

And to practice one more blossoming tree, I painted one in my interleaved journaling Bible.

James 1:17.  Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the  father of Light, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Some good news this week:  Charlie and I went to Charlotte on Monday for a follow-up visit with my orthopedic surgeon.  I had a total ankle replacement on January 9.  Dr. Davis was very pleased, and released me to start physical therapy and DITCH the Star Wars boot!  Hooray!  I went to physical therapy, and was told I had the prettiest post-surgery ankle she had ever seen!  Okay, then! Not that I have a pretty foot, but there was very little swelling, bruising, or scarring, and good range of motion.  That was very encouraging!  Now I have a small brace that is little more than a wrap.  She also wants me to walk with a cane to improve my gait.

I have almost two months before I need to be able to walk all over the hilly campus at the Merlefest music festival, so that is a good motivational goal.  

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Ashe Arts Council Quilt Exhibit

We took a trip to West Jefferson with Kim and Melissa this past weekend.  One of our stops was the quilt exhibit at the Ashe County Arts Council.  This is a small venue, but the quilts looked beautiful hanging on the walls.  They will be on display until March 9.  Here are a few of my favorites, created by members of the Ashe County Piecemakers Quilt Guild.

Sunrise Over the Mountains, by Sara Moore

top:  Sunrise On the Mountain, Linda Gagnon and Gillian A. Winterton;    Below:  Running Free, Gillian A. Winterton

Garden of Flowers, Carol Skroch

Star Genealogy, Janet D. Ward

Tropical Dreams from a Winter Mountain Cabin, Catherine Finch and Gillian A. Winterton

Top  Left:  Dogwood, Gillian A. Winterton; Top Right, Larkspurs and Rubies, Michele Hays; Center,  Garden Splendor, Irene Bebber

The Arts Council is practically next door to the Ashe County Cheese Factory, so we took the obligatory photo of our daughter-in-law and her sister in front of the milk containers decorated like cows.

Kim and Melissa at Ashe County Cheese Factory

Batik Watercolor Art Quilt

I have been organizing my sewing area in our newly finished basement for the past week.  I have found all kinds of treasures...especially UFO's (UnFinished Objects).  Here is one that I started several years ago in a class with Kathie George at Art of the Carolinas in Raleigh, NC.

Golden Flowers, by Jeanne Turner McBrayer

It is actually a watercolor painting on Ginwashi Oriental paper, sort of like rice paper.  Starting from the lightest shades, areas are painted, then waxed to preserve the light color.  There are at least four or five layers.  When all the color is added, you iron the piece to remove the wax, and discover your glowing painting.

I discovered that the Ginwashi paper holds up just fine to being machine quilted, so the painting became a quilt.  I added some beads and Swarovski crystals.  It shines in the sun!

I am just about finished with the unpacking in the sewing room, and am actually piecing a baby quilt.   The Gammill longer machine is now accessible, but I have not even turned it on for about a year while it was all covered with boxes, bags, and bundles from our move.  

It is good to be able to sew again!  

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Here are two new pages that I painted with watercolors in my interleaved Bible.

Psalm 1
 For both of these, I applied clear gesso to the page first.  I also tried using masking fluid to preserve some of the white of the paper.  I was afraid that removing the masking fluid might tear the thin pages, but they held up fine.  The clear gesso makes the page much more slick, so the paint slides around more.

We have a young niece who recently suffered a stroke and had to have surgery to relieve pressure on her brain.  She remains in the ICU.  I painted the next page for those who are anxious and worried about her.  Philippians 4:6-9 has gotten me through a lot of anxious times.

Philippians 4:6-9

Thursday, February 15, 2018

How to Paint a Bible Cover

The worship committee at my church asked if they could use my journaling Bible on the altar during the season of Lent.  I was honored...and decided to spruce up the paint-spattered black cover by painting it.

Since we live in a rural community in the North Carolina mountains, I decided to make my cover reflect our beautiful surroundings.

I looked on You Tube and Pinterest for any hints about how to prepare the cover for painting, and just plunged in.

First, I completely protected the pages with saran wrap.  Then I applied white gesso to all of the black  cover, and let it dry thoroughly.  I sanded some of the rough-textured areas.

Notice the saran wrap thoroughly protecting the Bible pages.
 I cut a piece of sketch paper the same size as the Bible cover (front and back) to make a sketch of my cover design.

Using the sketch paper, I made a rough drawing and painting of the mountain design.  I also tried out different white pens, inks, and markers on this paper to see if any would work on the acrylic paint.

Then, I got brave and applied acrylic paint to the actual Bible cover.

 Big Mistake!  I should have checked to see which way the pages were facing.  I painted my mountain scene upside down!

So, I painted over the green foliage and the sky and re-shaped the mountains.  A bit of the old sky became a lake at the bottom.

I added in the Christmas tree farm and darkened the central mountain to resemble Mount Jefferson.

I practiced the text on paper first to get it the size I needed.  After experimentation, the only white pen that worked was the Bic White-Out marker.  It was hard to control.  You have to squeeze the pen while you write.  I then outlined a shadow on the right and lower edges of the letters.  I added the cross as well.

Final step was to spray clear acrylic to protect the paint.  I used Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating 1303.. I recommend setting up a space outdoors for this step, because the fumes are strong. I kept the cellophane wrap on the pages and set the Bible on  the lid of a large Rubbermaid storage container.   I sprayed at least four coats, with long drying times in between.  I kept the Bible outside whenever it was not rainy for about three days to let the fumes wear off a bit.

Last night I delivered the Bible to the church at our Ash Wednesday service.  

I hope the paint will last.  I'm not too sure about the white text, as it is applied kind of thick, and may chip off.  If it does, I can always make a fabric cover!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentines' Day

Here is the card that I made for my husband's Valentine...a pair of love-birds!  We have enjoyed watching the cardinals and other songbirds at the feeders this winter.  And this afternoon, I enjoyed watching from my basement studio window as a chipmunk scampered around on the ground underneath the porch feeders.  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

More Bible Art

Last week a member of the Worship Committee at my church asked if they could use my journaling Bible on the altar during the season of Lent.  I am honored!  I have gotten busy adding art to the inside covers and some of the end pages.

Numbers 6:24-26

Inside front cover

Hebrews 1

Art on some of the back pages:  Sermon on the Mount

Pages where I sometimes experiment with pens
I am also attempting to paint the cover, which was plain black.  So far, I have covered it in white gesso.  I will try to do a step-by-step on the process of creating the cover.