Portfolio Pages

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Snow is gone, but there are pictures!

Yeah, OK. I can practically hear the "snort" of derision by folks that live with snow every year (for months).
And I get it - and I agree.
It's not like it's been really cold here in Tucson.
(I lived in Illinois for a while as a youngling - I know cold.
Tucson ain't cold.)
A look at ONE of the photos from the Boston Globe's "The Big Picture" post on "Snowstorm Dumps on Northeast" is more than a reality check on true Winter Weather.

But - CRIMONY - it snowed for HOURS! In Tucson!!
Huge flakes/clusters and it actually STUCK to the ground and the trees and the cars and...the roads.
That is a bizarre happenstance for Tucson.

Several times in the last month, I have pseudo-bewailed that I hadn't ever driven in snow.
Well, I got my chance Wednesday.
I drove over bridges (no discernible ice) and on a well-travelled main road on the way to Sahuarita that accumulated slush and the snow was heavy enough to cover the tracks in the "fast" lane pretty quickly.
I have to say, we snow-clueless Tucsonan drivers were astoundingly well-behaved and actually driving under the speed limit in the foreign white-stuff.
(Sadly, that sensible-driving was offset the next morning by some significant wrecks...{sigh})

In the early evening, I made a couple of attempts to take some pictures of that rarely-seen-in-Tucson form of crystallized humidity: Snow.


When I got safely home later that night {the roads were much more interesting and slushy on the way home}, I went out to attempt some pictures of the white-stuff still sticking to the cactus in my back yard. {Click on the pics to em-biggin.}
Slushy Ice hanging from my clothes line.
Rocks underneath the clothes line and
the now-barren Mexican Bird of Paradise.
Snow-encrusted (down to the thorns) Barrel Cactus
(there are 2 new cacti growing from the right side).
Teddy Bear Cholla (purple prickly pear
cactus in the back)
Close up on the icy Teddy Bear Cholla

Night Blooming Cereus and Bougainvillea

The Moon was out by then.

Thursday AM, I was visiting a friend who asked me to take some pictures from her yard (her camera was not behaving just then):


Ah - and here's a picture of the Tucson Mountains in Snow:

Later I couldn't resist snapping pictures of our stunning Santa Catalina Mountains from afar - at my allergist's office (please pardon the overhead light reflection).

I LOVE the shading and definition the snow lent to our lovely Northern Mountain range. Normally, I have to admire the depth and ridges offered by sunrise/sunset or cloud-cover, but the snow showed off a new perspective of my favorite mountains.

The snow is mostly gone now. Certainly from around town and only the taller Mountains circling our city have white near the top.
The excitement from this snowfall felt like the first real snow of the season when I lived back east. Magical and surprising - a little exciting and, obviously, a bit nostalgic for me.

The snow they're dealing with back east now {along with flooding - wow} is mind boggling.
I don't envy them, as they won't envy us in July when our "dry" heat is regularly above 110, but I did enjoy our taste of "Winter" and my first experience driving in snow.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Attempting to improve my Core Issues (for Mixed Media)

Ok, here's the not so great news first.
The Results of the first Mixed Media Homework attempt was not particularly well-received by the teacher. I got a grade a skoch above average. {embarrassed sigh}
My interpretation of this grade is that I failed to use stuff from around my house to actually create the core for the coiled homework project - as the teacher had requested.
The teacher had not previously heard of memory wire - which I had used as my "core". I think my pre-made core and the minimal size of my project was the source of my average grade. {sigh}

Ok - educational opportunity.
I will engage my inner-recycler and will pay more attention to what the teacher says. And I'll ASK if I could/should use stuff from around my craft room.
(Hmmm - now that I'm an "Art Student" do I now refer to that room as my "Studio"? {grin})

The better news/improved core:
For the 2nd coiling adventure, she gave us the core and allowed us to pick a fibre from the School's fiber stash for the next coiling/wrapping project.
I made some good progress:

I got through the first piece of core she gave us and attempted a splice the second piece when I was out-n-about (and without the glue she advised we use to join core pieces). So I tried this:
I thought it turned out too bulky. When I got home, I unwrapped back to this join, un-joined the two pieces, and used re-positionable glue to keep it steady whilst I re-wrapped and secured the new coil to the basket coiled below.

I started out with a more-grand design, but as the homework due-date loomed, I simplified the design (twice).

Although these yarns(?possibly linen?) obviously match, the grey/silver one was not as pleasant to work with because it was a bit slubby and untwisted very quickly.

Minor disappointment - the teacher didn't collect this one for grading. {wry grin} But it goes into my "portfolio" so it might help my end-grade.

The "Large" Coiling project: 
Now I'm working on a larger coiling project - due next week.
I'd hoped to be further along but I paused to change yarns (good change) and to tea-dye the core {Interesting. It didn't get very dark, but it took the edge off the white core}.

I had the core in my stash, inherited from a friend's Mom, and the yarn is an interesting hand dye in rust, brown and grey. (Yes, the teacher is aware that I'm using these materials.) ;-)

We'll see how far I get and how it turns out. I'll likely cover it in the blog a bit later.

I hope your Valentine's day was lovely and that you appreciate your Valentine - AND yourself every day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

They could tell it was chopsticks!!

So I continue to be boggled, delighted, optimistic, stumped, and sometimes fatalistic about my drawing adventures.

After my first meager attempts at drawing....well, there have been more meager attempts at drawing. {grin}
But I am "drawing at home" now. ;-)

We were sent home with an assignment to draw 4 things from our kitchen. One had to hold a liquid and we were supposed to draw it as though we were looking down at it.

I pulled down a mug, a pair of chopsticks, a lemon recently gifted from friend's tree, and a kitty kitchen timer. I added some water to the mug and tried placing the above in a pleasing arrangement on the dining room table.

And then I took pictures with the iTouch so I could minimize the time spent {wasted} away from the drawing homework {disengaging cat paws/persons from my "still life".}

I liked this arrangement:
So did Gryphon:

Yes, I did consider doing the drawing including Gryphon's head. {Very tempting}
However, I wasn't sure I could do his ears justice. And if I included them I'd have "5 things" instead of four and, per my rules, Gryphon is not part of the kitchen.
{Per Gryphon's rules....well, Gryphon and I "discuss" those rules on a too-regular basis}.

Gryphon LOVES to drink water out of cups or drinking glasses.
It is WAY better than the {exact same} water I put into the kitty fountain he shares with the other 3 cats. He feels still water in a kitty dish is not as good as still water in our drinking glasses. {sigh/grin}
"What?" Isn't this water for me??
One more Gryphon-pic. You know that thing cats do when they reach around something 'cause they're not sure how the thing "works"/where the bottom is/how much space and time it occupies in the universe?
{Yep, right through the handle of the mug.}
After I stopped laughing and Gryphon had had enough to drink, I put everything away, hid in my craft room, and did my homework.

In class, we pinned our drawings up in the "gallery" next to the classroom and one by one, we reviewed each other's homework.
We considered if we'd kept the viewer's eye within the 4 corners of the picture (balance), format, placement, and line/negative space. My review was pretty decent, although I can't remember most of it. Something about I need to draw more assertively/darker - better value and shading.
I don't remember most of it because I was entirely thrilled that my class-mates could tell that I'd drawn chopsticks!! Woot!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"What do you draw at home?" I don't. Well, I didn't.

So - as part of my Fiber Arts Degree, I do need to experience other aspects of Art.

Required - Drawing 1.
O-K. I'll take it. 'Cause I have to.
{didja get the slightly whiny tone there?}

The teacher is cool. Very, actually. Passionate about his art and teaching. Lively, charming & talented.
He brings in Art History touches with his examples - which I truly enjoy. It's a Good Class.

However, it's also mixed with Drawing 2 students (just a couple). Alright - the class is filled with people that draw all the time.
For fun. It's their passion and they are eons ahead of me in knowledge, ability, and drive.
I actually feel a little sorry for the teacher - being stuck with me in a class that is otherwise filled with excited, talented students that are half-taught already.

So....at the end of the first class, he asks us to draw an "egg" and a "bottle" for our homework.
I looked around, pulled a bottle off the kitchen windowsill, selected an average egg from the carton in the fridge and I took a photo. {So the egg wouldn't sit out or become a messy hockey puck for the cats}

I gave it a shot and I think I did OK.
Meaning I felt it could be recognized as a funky-looking bottle and some roundish "thing" {which could be a potato or an egg....}. ;-)

Next class, we arrive and there's a white carafe and a Styrofoam ball up on a table on a white cloth.
We're told to draw it in the next 15 min.
Again - I give it a shot.

The teacher came by to review our drawings (and homework) and to offer some advice.
It was explained that my inclination to draw small (conserving paper) was not so desirable.
Use the Whole Page. Check. Got it.

Now...I'm still trying (even a few weeks later) to comprehend some of the very kind and supportive coaching I received. (No, I'm not being sarcastic. He was being very kind even before he began to realize what he was dealing with...)

My confused look prompted the teacher to try and start with something I'd be familiar with:
Teacher: {said kindly and with interest} : "What do you draw at home?".
Me: "At Home? Nothing.".
Teacher: "Nothing?".
Me: "Nothing. I don't draw."
Teacher: "You don't? Not anything?".
Me: "Nope".
Teacher: "What do you do?".
Me: "A variety of hand-crafts. Mostly I knit.".
Teacher: {And I may not have heard him correctly but I could have sworn he said}: "Well, by the end of this class, we'll have you knitting in 3-D!".

I was a bit confounded and was thinking: "But I already knit it 3-D...?"

More of that conversation was a bit blurry and, um, I suspect I missed some of what was imparted due to the drawing jargon used. He did suggest was that I start my drawing with some basic grid-lines {Oh - so my carafe would not resemble a certain leaning tower.}.

I think the rest was along the lines of I was being too fussy about my drawing and I needed to kinda let go a bit. Ok. Seemed like reasonable advice.

The teacher then gave us some general pointers and background requirements.
He then altered the still life to include a dark blanket draped behind the carafe/ball with some interesting lighting (which radically changed the shadows and our view of the items {again - pretty cool}) and we were told to try again.
He came by and offered more advice and I tried to apply the suggestions.
{Look! I used the Whole page!} ;-)
It's ok. It doesn't look much better whether you squint at it or em-biggen the picture.
I figure I can only get better.
But....at least I already knit in 3-D.