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Sunday, December 30, 2018

In Memory of Champion, a.k.a. Champion of the World




I recently - and finally! - completed my portrait of Champion.  Champion was my friends,  Patty's and Larry's, beloved cat.  They got him from a shelter when he was a kitten and lived a happy and full life with them.  He was truly a beloved family member.  Rest in Peace, little Champion.

I began with the drawing of Champion.  Patty had given me several photos of him, and I worked from them.  I struggled to get a good likeness, but when I was satisfied many other projects intervened and it was several months until I got back to him.  During that time I was contemplating what I wanted his portrait to look like.  And in the end, I decided on a combination of motifs and techniques that I use often.

It used to trouble me that I keep using favorite motifs and techniques, but I now realize that it's my style - a good thing!

The concept of this portrait is that Champ has passed on and is now an angel.  Mouse and Bird angels look on from above the arch.  Champ is surrounded by foliage representing the outdoors that he so loved.  A crown of laurel surround him - crowns of laurel being given to heroes in the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome.



I began the background with opaque blues and greens then applied stenciled tissue paper, then transparent washes.  I began Champ with the eyes and nose, then painted in the base color of the laurel wreath.

Continuing, I painted Champ with light washes of transparent acrylic, then added tiny lines of fur and finally more washes.



I then turned to the bird and mouse, painting them both the same way as Champ - washes, details, and more washes.  After applying three coats of varnish, I added the gold dot haloes.  I've learned that varnish dulls the gold paint, so I add the gold on top of the varnish.


 Here's a detail of Champ.  I wrote "I love you" above his head as a constant message from Champ to Patty and Larry, and vice versa.

Here's the detail of the mouse, and, below, the sparrow.

I am very happy with this piece and think it's one of the best I've done.  I asked Champ to help me, and I think he did.  Thank you, Champion.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Abstracts????? Me?????


I am a great fan of Tracy Verdugo's.  I've never taken one of her classes and I don't really think her art is for me, but I love her style, enthusiasm, and warmth, and she's a dedicated and wonderful teacher.  I'm on her mailing list and when she offered a free series of 4 videos on abstract approaches, I jumped right in!

The first two videos were about different ways of creating contrast.  I determined to give it a try, as the exercise in contrast intrigued me and, of course, it's applicable to art other than abstracts.


I decided to work on three at once, and thought that if they turned out I'd enter them as a "series of 3" in our art club's Small Works show this month.

It was scary, but there was only one thing to do - start!  And so I did, with charcoal, then acrylic inks.  The next day I did more.  Then the third day I took them with me to a working art group I attend once a week.  I really didn't know what to do next and my friend, Lucia, suggested that they might be done.  But that wouldn't do because I had three hours to do art and hadn't brought any other projects.  So I just continued, somehow...


Then someone asked me what the title of the series was.  Stumped again!  The inquirer pointed out that someone had once told her that titles are important.  So, I said "they look like octopus calligraphy to me."  Hence, they are "Octopus Calligraphy 1," "Octopus Calligraphy 2," and "Octopus Calligraphy 3."

Although they're "done," I haven't decided yet how to crop them or how to frame or mount them.  I think they're pretty, but don't know if there's more to them than that.  They were fun to do, and my thanks go out to Tracy for her generosity in sharing her techniques.