This summer I picked up a set of Liquitex acrylic gouache because I really enjoyed working with gouache in college (a long, long time ago) but haven't found a brand that I have enjoyed using. Often gouache, which kind of feels like a chalky mix of watercolour and acrylic, doesn't smell very nice and isn't very smooth on application. It definitely has its place, particularly in illustration, but I wanted to try it again. Anyway, the Liquitex acrylic gouache is nice as far as the medium goes, but I am still struggling with it a bit. I finally decided to return to the altered book I've been working on and work back into the portraits I painted of my daughters and I'm liking it much more. This medium is fantastic for altered books as I find watercolours too transparent while acrylics are too sticky. I may have to make a couple of more adjustments and may also add some airbrushed patterns with Liquitex acrylic ink. We'll see. So far, so good, in any case.
I have a few new projects in mind currently...one I've begun by starting layers of paint and pattern on a couple of dozen canvases, a second was started on 12-7x14 inch canvases plus I am about to begin working with non-toxic paints which will require a bit of a learning curve for me. The product is Natural Earth Paint which is pigments ground from natural stone and then hand mixed using walnut oil and eco solve (a natural thinner). The pigments are harmless and can even be mixed for watercolours and children's paint and face paint. I'm a little nervous to switch from my tried and true acrylics but also excited as I have wanted to switch to organic products that were still professional for many years. I want to stretch my own organic cotton canvases again and have contacted my old alma mater (Red Deer College) for the home made gesso recipe to prepare canvas as well. I still have some paint and canvses to go through but am looking forward to the new year. Wish me luck!
The Grandmothers::Louise Schoolcraft Akers
We would go see my grandmother during the summer. We lived in Virginia and she was in Jamestown, Indiana. She lived in a farmhouse perched above a curve in the road. Depending on the year there would be corn or soybeans growing on the 10 or so acres behind the house. She and my Grandpa Lee had a huge garden and yard that flowed down to the field. They leased the farm acreage. Looking back, my memories are of playing with my cousins and the adults were in the background. I always felt a little exotic arriving in this rural setting.
My grandmother. My impressions are of a strong woman. She was tall and broad shouldered. She was very vocal, commanding, in charge and organized. Domineering is probably accurate. My Grandpa Lee was her 4th husband and they were married at least 20 years. I know she was a nurse. I know she made and decorated wedding cakes. I remember boxes and boxes of cake mix in her pantry. I remember looking at her photo albums of her cakes and stories of she and my grandpa delivering them. I can just hear her bossing him the whole time. She also canned. I remember shelves filled with canned green beans. Green beans and tomatoes are the two things I remember from her garden. She also had a stash of Avon in a closet, I assume she sold it at one time. I remember getting the ice cream cone lip balm, then the ice cream float for Christmas. My grandmother must have been a resourceful woman. I know she made choices that alienated my dad at various times in his youth. Those were hard times. All three of her sons joined the service right out of school and my aunt married a navy man.
There are several things that are her legacy. One, her children and grandchildren are workers. We all have this work ethic that we provide for ourselves even when times are tough. Second, nearly all of her grandchildren are in the healthcare field. Finally, we are readers. My grandmother sent me a check for $3.00 for my birthday for years. I bought Trixie Belden books with all that money! My dad, even now as his memory starts to fade, reads all the time. I remember my Uncle Jim and his kids reading all the time too.
I know I come by my personality honestly. My heritage is one of strong women paternally and maternally.
~ Elaine Harrison
New Work at Bluerock
I went for a beautiful ride in the country to drop off new work at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, to pick up gifts and to see the clay exhibit. I was not disappointed. Love that drive through the rolling hills south of Calgary. The sun was shining and the roads were clear. My hand-printed heart cards, painted moons, a few more bee paintings and a couple of canoes are now available.
The Grandmothers::Nihar Banerjee
I love the work you’re doing with grandmothers! I’d love to submit my grandma. She passed away in 2007 and had moved here from India in the 90s. Never spoke English and taught my brother and I so much about our native language, culture and heritage. Your work has inspired me to reminisce :)
My grandmother’s name was Nihar Banerjee. She moved to Canada in 1992 and passed away in 2007. She was such a warm and tender presence in my brother and my life. She never spoke English which forced us to practice our native tongue, Bengali. She was deeply religious and taught us about different Hindu religions and would still take the time to learn about Christianity and Jesus’ life as she thought it was important to understand the predominant Canadian religion. My grandma was an amazing cook and cooked so many great vegetarian meals (they are hard to replicate when she taught based on a handful of this and a pinch of that- I swear here hands were WAY smaller than mine :)).
~ Annisha Chakravorty
Since drying prints can take up a lot of space, I decided to set up a drying rack in my studio. The beauty of art is that often you can use what you have, so I brought up a laundry drying rack. I couldn't find the clothespins (I guess that says a lot about how much this rack is used) so I rummaged through our home office and found every bulldog and butterfly clip I could find. I think there is a certain sense of satisfaction or feeling of accomplishment, no matter how small, when you make do with what you have when creating artwork. Other ideas that popped into my head were propping these on my dining table or hanging them from a curtain rod. That's the kind of problem solving I enjoy. :)
I've been asked about the materials I use when teaching introductory printmaking.
I supply @speedball_art carving tools with interchangable cutting blades or a variety of sizes of V-gouge & U-gouge tools, though I'm currently using lino (battleship linoleum), I provide Speedy Cut which is easier to cut as it's like a rubber erasor, along with acrylic printmaking ink.
I also bring my heat gun & lino for those who want to give it a try. We share rubber brayers (one for each colour) to roll the ink onto the carving and use either a plastic barren, my small hand press, or wooden spoons for the students to rub the back of the paper once the ink is rolled on & paper laid on top of it.
I also have a bench hook I use to carve on & to roll ink on but with the kids we tend to use coated paper plates. I recently sharpened my tools at my daughter's so I know my next purchase needs to be a honing block. Because I use water soluble ink everything can be washed with soap and water.
There are also smaller introductory kits available through many art & craft stores or online.
Making cards is often one of the funnest little projects, just keep in mind that everything (ie. words) will end up in reverse.
The Grandmothers::Mary Margaret Hardy
This is my gran Mary Margaret at 17. I looked exactly like her when I was 21! The last time I ever saw her she was in a care home. An old man a few doors down wandered in, and she told him if he wandered in one more time, she would put turpentine in his milk. She was a riot. The photos I’ve attached are all of Mary Hardy, dating from the late 20's to the 90's.
I barely knew her, only having met her a few times (I'm from and grew up in Alberta, but my dad is from NS). What I do know is that she was a character, my fav advice she gave once was that the best blueberries to pick were the ones by the graveyard, because they were well fed (lol) and no one else would pick those ones, so they were plentiful.
~ Adrinna Hardy
40 portraits complete!
The other day I was asked how many portraits have been painted in 'The Grandmothers' series so far and so I counted...there are 40! Initially I did say that I would be painting 52, one for each week of the year, but I've since received a few more stories and photographs so in December I will be painting and posting those as well. I can't believe I'm already on the final stretch. This has been such a wonderful project and I do feel so honoured to be able to create this body of work.