Friday, July 25, 2014

Jesse Falling Asleep and Waking Up, a Slow Motion Study

Tomorrow we're leaving very early for New Jersey and then New Hampshire,  bringing Maya along to visit with her cousins and aunts and uncles;  so today Jesse had to check in to the boarding kennel.  He knew something was up this morning, as he always does when luggage appears.  He hung around with me in my studio, and I drew this series of him falling asleep in the back window.
Then something outside attracted his attention, and these two drawings show him rising to alertness, keeping his eye on whatever it was outside that had awakened him.
Jacob and I had a French conversation lunch at the Battery Park Book Exchange downtown, and we were joined by this sweet little border collie that belongs to the owner of the BX.  She shook hands, sat, played dead in exchange for small pieces of turkey.  Then she just stood next to our table and grinned at us while we had our conversation and ate our lunch.
After lunch Jacob wandered around looking for things to photograph and I found a quiet spot to sit and draw two faux deer heads that hang on the walls.  After that we went down to the warehouse district along the river and parked under the high freeway bridges.  J took photographs which he said he will be posting tonight on his blog , so check soon to see them.  He was finally able to buy a wide angle lens and was experimenting with that today.  We definitely plan on returning to this location later.

I may not post during the next week and a half, but I will be drawing, and I'll do a big catch-up post when we get home.  Then again, my new phone may be better at taking pictures, and if that's the case and I can post, I'll make some interim posts.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Drawing While Devouring Tapas

 When we were in Barcelona last April we became complete fans of Catalan and Spanish food.  What fun to get to eat it here in Asheville tonight at Curate!  Curate is fantastic, but if you want to eat there, two months before you want to go, you need to go on line and make your reservation.  And you DO want to eat there!  At top left is a sunflower from a bunch in a giant vase set on a ledge by a window near our table.  The circular things are part of a light fixture.  Everything else on this page is food that was rapidly disappearing as I was sketching:  potato and onion tart, fried potatoes, bread with tomatoes and manchego cheese, cava (sparkling white champagne-like wine).  We also had an assortment of olives that were gone before I got around to sketching them.
At the top my favorite spinach with raisins, apples, pine nuts;  and across the page an incomparable shrimp and garlic and bayleaf and small pepper dish.  At the bottom are two people from another table.  We also had crema catalunya (a kind of creme caramel) that we ate so fast I never got to draw it!  Thank you Erik and Kerstin!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Les Espadrilles

These are F's genuine espadrilles, which she bought from a village market in the south of France last summer for less than E8 (approximately $10 at the time).   I wish so much I had bought several pair (as she wisely did) that day.  I did buy one pair, but these are striped and so much cooler!
These shoes cannot be beat!  (Why is it that the faux espadrilles made by Tom's cost $40??)

Monday, July 21, 2014

In the Muddy Middle of a Herd

I can't claim that this was an enjoyable drawing to make, but it feels good to have actually done it.  I walked out to the field behind our house this afternoon just before rain started pelting down.  The college farm crew has finally moved some cows to this field after nearly two months of no cows to eat the grass and weeds.  I stepped through the stile that connects our back woods to the field and landed in the middle of a wash of poop and mud and waist high grass and some disgruntled-looking cows that seemed completely unequal to the task of clearing the meadow.  I stood there inside the electric fence enclosure and tried to make sense of the slowly moving black shapes and the grass and weed textures and puddles and poop.  I gave up on drawing cows and just outlined what seemed to be more or less the shapes I could see.  I filled in a texture strip.  Flies were landing on my notebook.  Cows were ponging and mooing.  A couple of calves surfaced from underneath bushes.  The clouds gathered and grew darker.  Drops began spitting down.  I backed out of the field and landed in one of the four enormous piles of clay excavated by the groundhogs that have taken over the fenceline inside our yard.
I shook off my tall boots and dumped my umbrella, made a quick run to the garden to see if there was anything to pick, found an enormous cucumber, as big as one of those inedible zucchinis that leap into being at the end of a rainy spell.  A weapon of a cucumber.  Anybody have a good overgrown cucumber recipe?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Small Party of Peafowl

 At top left is the view of our neighbor's backyard seen from our side window.  I look at this everyday and never get tired of the chunky blocks of darks and lights.  The rest of the page consists of traces left by my pen as I thought through a design for a small backpack designed to transport three pints of vegetable juice for a customer who walks a mile to and from work and carries three jars of juice for snacks and lunch.

More thinking about the backpack, but then things get interesting on the feral bird scene.  The wild turkeys visited again in the late morning, two hens and the eight half-grown juveniles from yesterday.  Today the babies gathered under a rose bush and sat for a while, ignoring Jesse, who watched from his perch beside the woodpile.  After a while one of the babies flew up to the top of a very tall tree!
I watched some more while the two mothers pecked bugs from the grass and the babies seemed to nap under the bush.  Then suddenly two more females appeared, only these were slightly different from the usual turkey hens.  I noticed the feathers on top of their heads and their white faces.  Peahens!  Never before have we seen feral peahens around here.  I did some research and discovered feral peafowl exist in urban areas, notably LA.  They're members of the pheasant family and are forest birds.  So this forest-surrounded street would be a good environment for them, but I've never seen them here before.  Another idea I had is that these are domestic peahens escaped from someone's yard around here. At any rate, these two were quite comfortable with the wild turkeys, and the turkey mothers seemed unruffled by the presence of these two peahens.  These turkeys and peahens are the coolest, calmest birds I've ever seen.  I would like to have their composure and regal posture!

Jesse meanwhile retreated to his favorite side-of-the-house spot, the roof of P's car.  He is bored by wildlife I think, since they are unimpressed by him.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Flotilla of Turkeys

 It rained softly all day today.  Around 11:00 this morning a flotilla of turkeys wafted into our front yard and stayed for about 45 minutes.  The mother had 8 chicks, half grown ones, so I guess these are jakes and jennies, right?  They were mainly interested in picking things out of the grass around the gardens and out of their own feathers.  They were in perfect view of the bedroom window, and I stayed with them for about half an hour.  Lots of good turkey gestures, mainly involving grooming.

At one point our neighbor came walking down the middle of the street with her dog on a leash.  The mother turkey kept an eye on the dog but stayed put on the lawn while the babies all ran or flew out of view, up toward the backyard.  I got to see the babies take off and land!  After the dog and neighbor were gone, the mother must have given some kind of signal, because gradually all 8 babies reassembled.  I decided to go out on the front porch and see if I could get closer.  I stood on the porch, and to my surprise Jesse slunk out from behind the woodpile where he had apparently been lurking.  The turkeys ignored us, and Jesse watched them carefully but with no bristling fur or threatening noises.  Eventually the mother finished her careful grooming, and everybody took off sailing slowly down the middle of the street in single file.

For fans of the rice bag journal, here's the outside of the closed book.
 And here's the other side of it, showing the folded over opening and all the great edge stitching.  I've seen other cloth bags of rice here, but this one is just such a perfect size for me and has such a pretty graphic and stitching on it.  And a bonus-- the recipe for the good paella is on the inside covers and shows when you open the book.  (Ironic that I was just in Barcelona in April and didn't see a single wonderful bag such as this one.  All the rice bags in our neighborhood markets were cellophane or plastic with minimal graphics.  This one says clearly that it is a product of Spain, probably from a company owned by Whole Foods--)  I've checked Trader Joe to no avail, but Whole Foods carries it reliably.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Journal and Small Tutorial

 It's always an adventure to finish a book and make a new one.  This time I had an empty paella rice bag at the ready!  It is the easiest book I've ever made, and you can make your own in a few minutes, no kidding.

Step 1:  Flatten the empty cloth bag from Mafiz Valenciano paella rice and turn it horizontally.  Cut or tear 25 sheets of drawing paper from an inexpensive Strathmore drawing pad so that they each measure about 4 1/2" high by 7 or 8" wide.  Fold each sheet in half to make little folios that you will then nest inside of each other, 5 folios to a signature (or gathering or booklet).

Step 2.  If you want a hard back to your book, slide a piece of light cardboard into the bag, and push it all the way to the bottom.  When turned horizontally, the cardboard part of the bag will be to your right.  Before doing anything else, sew a seam down the center of that end of the book to keep the cardboard from scooting around.
Step 3:  Open out the middle signature to its center page and sew a seam through the center fold and also through the center of the bag.  You can sew by hand or with a sewing machine.  I use a treadle machine, but it you have a heavy duty electric machine, that should work.  After sewing the center signature, sew the other four or however many you have, alternating left and right to keep the spacing right.

 As you can see here, the open end of the bag is to the left when the book is open.  You can leave it like this to use as a pocket for holding pens, small watercolor brushes and small mint tins of watercolor or money or keys or whatever else you want to keep inside the front cover pocket.  Or you could slip a second sheet of cardboard in there to make a hard cover.

I left my cover open to use as a pocket.  To close everything up, I fold the left side under and slip an old produce rubber band around the book.  These paintings are all of stuff I picked from the square foot garden this afternoon and used in the paella tonight.  You can see how deformed the okra is.  I don't think it's getting enough heat and light.  Put the four new plants in today while it was raining.