Friday, July 10, 2020

Madonna and the Purple Rhodys

This has been an extraordinary time for self isolation  and reflection.  I took it to the studio and treated the 8-10 weeks of social distancing as an artist retreat.  With no distractions and with my family buying my groceries and other staples, I accomplished a lot. I will share just one of those projects with you.

Since outdoor mobility has been on lock down, looking out from within my home has been a renewed pleasure and mindful self-reflection.
This April, I identified a Black Throated Blue Warbler in my grove of rhododendrons outside my office window.  Here is handsome he:

Because my plein air painting group was no longer meeting due to COVID restrictions, I volunteered to give Thursday morning prompts for everyone.  One of the prompts was to paint a windowscape that is, to combine the elements of the interior and exterior world with a window; the near and far.  Often artists will arrange a still life of personal items on a window sill or on a small table placed in front of an open window. I choose to set up a still life at my computer desk consisting of an Easter lily and a wooden icon and a view of  the rhododendron grove.  My rhodys weren’t in bloom at the time in April but what does that matter.

And so I painted this scene in acrylic :

Which then lead to two, new lino prints.

The first print and its edition was accomplished in just one day; quite an exhausting feat for a hand pulled, reduction print edition. I limited the number of colors and used Caligo water soluble inks. I enjoyed working with these inks for the first time; fast drying and easy clean-up.  The print was created for the International Print Day on May 1.   All submitted prints had to be created in one day. I slept like an old, tired dog the next day.

Since I really like the theme, Madonna  of the Purple Rhodys, I decided to give it another whirl by creating a second print with more colors and upping the composition complexity, typical of my method of working in reductive process. I continued the use of the Caligo inks: three process colors (red, yellow and blue) and white.

My studies/drawings for the second print:

Previously, I mentioned my rhodys weren’t in bloom when I created these images. Well here is a photo of those blooming beauties this June, doubly blessed with a glass table top reflection of the scene out my window.  Such is  inspiration.

Be well,

Susan Jaworski-Stranc

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Madonna of the Purple Rhodys

Today I participated in the Annual Print Day in May, a world wide event where printmakers celebrate their craft by creating a print in one day.  When the print is finished, the printmakers share their creations by posting it on line. Not sure how many participants but there must be hundreds from around the world.  Printmakers here in Massachusetts are social distancing so we're working alone but together.  Great to know there other printmakers printing away in studios around the world.

Image is a windowscape from my office.  7x5, 5 color reduction linoleum using Caligo water soluble inks. Printed on Rives Lightweight paper.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

In need of a caption

Recently I set up an interesting combination of toys for a drawing exercise.  Since I have so much uninterrupted time on my hand lately, I have been drawing a lot with markers.  After looking at this drawing for sometime, I realized this drawing was begging for a cartoon caption.  So I asked a few friends for their suggestions. Here is the list of captions they relayed to me.
·        We feel the heat of adversity too… but Frosty, you are the only non-threatening character among us to go outside and pick up our take out order.”

·         "Six feet? Six of whose feet?"

·         "Whaddaya think? Are we 6' apart?"

·         "Ummmm, I don't know guys...doesn't quite feel like 6' to me..."

·        "It's a whole new world out there, Archie. No way can we bend like that..."

·       Even the toys are ignoring social distancing rules.
·        “Triplets?  Really?”

·         "Got any more of those masks?"

·       Come on now, I know you're going to be great friends!!

·      For the last time, you're not a real snowman, you can’t melt

·         “Can we get the virus?”

Saturday, March 28, 2020

What a story to tell

Saturday, March 14th, Timmy* escaped when I left the front door open a crack… I didn’t mean to leave the door open when I was in the studio.

I found him sleeping in a leaf pile near the garden shed. Unfortunately, I spooked him when I tried to pick him up and he ran to the front of the house.  I called his name, Timmy, Timmy, over and over again and then… I heard meows coming from my car.  I located the pitiful sounding meows coming from the engine compartment. For an hour, I sat on the ground at the front tire calling his name and shaking his yummy treat bag.  He wasn’t budging from within the car.  I called every public service department in town, the fire (they said they would have to tear apart my car $$$$)  and police, animal control (leave him be I was told),  AAA to see if they could jack up my car (they don’t provide that kind of animal/auto service), my VW dealer (they said do not turn on the car), my animal hospital.  I could not believe how heartless these public servants were.  Many stories have been reported of foxes, deer and lately a beaver being rescued by firemen and police.  An auto mechanic was called for help by a neighbor (just leave him be).  As a last resort, I blasted my car horn several times to scare him out…NOPE.

What a blessing to have caring neighbors who took pity on me and Timmy.  These folks came to our rescue. It was determined Timmy was wedged under the battery shelf. They removed the battery but the shelf was bolted to the metal block.  They jacked up the car and removed the tire thinking perhaps something inside the wheel well could be torn away…NOPE. That battery shelf had to be removed.  One of my neighbors came over with an electric hack saw and all our eyes lit up in fear… no thank you. Well, after breaking three hand saw blades, we had no other choice but to cut the bolts with the electric saw. In seconds the bolts were cut. The men pulled with all their might and broke the battery shelf so I could reach in and extract Timmy from the engine compartment. It was like delivering a baby…reaching in and pulling and twisting until he popped out. I held on to him no matter what and put him in the house where he flew under the bed.

He is fine…me? I was emotionally spent by the whole ordeal.  My car had to be towed away by AAA to my VW dealer and have the damage repaired.

I am so relieved to have Timmy sitting on my lap purring again.  I am so thankful for having such wonderful neighbors, who persevered for hours in the cold to help rescue my furry friend.   

*Timmy is my late son's feral kitten he rescued from under a beach cottage during his radiation and chemo treatment.  Timmy came home to live with me after Jeremy passed away.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Sugar Hill, NH

Ten painters from Western Avenue Studios and Brush Gallery both located in Lowell, traveled to Sugar Hill, NH and stayed at the Sun Set Inn for three days of painting. The weather we experienced was  typical for early spring New England weather..rain, sleet, snow, howling winds and peaks of sunshine all in three days.  So exhilarating! always challenging for plein air painters.

I brought along a kid's sled to transport my gear easily across the snow covered landscape. I brought my snow shoes along but didn't have a need because the snow wasn't all that deep for hiking out in search of a painting site. And besides, the mountain views from the Inn were spectacular, no matter where I stood.

On the second day, I did ventured out further from the Inn.  Precipitation was minimal: a few flakes were falling.  I started out at 9am with my sled packed with my gear.  When 1pm rolled around, my friends became concerned because I didn't return for lunch or possibly I had became lunch for a bear. I wasn't far from the Inn and so the search party didn't have a problem locating me. They let me be until I returned at 3pm.   I apologized for worrying them. 

I painted on a 16 x 20 panel divided by six. Once I found my painting spot, I just pivoted six times for a different view at the same spot. My palette was limited due to the lack of sun but my palette of warm and cool greys made for interesting color combos although the range created a somber feeling.

The last afternoon of my stay, I painted inside using sepia wash and a brush.  The Inn has a huge reception hall downstairs with a covered veranda: a perfect place for artists to work in inclement weather.   

The next morning after breakfast, I packed up, said my good byes and headed home. So glad I had the opportunity to see, feel, hear and smell snow again.

Monday, March 2, 2020

white pine, pine cones and pineal gland

With some new snow on the ground, I hiked into Maudslay State Park for a morning of painting.
At the far park's edge along the Merrimack River, I found a mound of wind blown pine boughs.   A curious display of numerous neophyte pine cones covered the fallen branches. What a unique find. So instead of focusing my painting on a panoramic  of the Merrimack River with ice flows traveling up the river, this gathering of winter green would be the painting's subject.  Organizing such a jumble on canvas would be quite the challenge for a three hour session.

Since it's illegal to take anything from the park, I snapped a few close ups pics of those petite pine cones. In the studio for further study, I drew with charcoal the pine needle clusters and the pine cones from the photos.


While researching white pine, I came across information about the pineal gland.  The shape of the gland is that of a small pine cone and is known as the third eye.   It regulates the circadian rhythms, that internal clock that affects actions such as when we sleep and wake.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Is it February?

No snow. Temperatures in the 40's. Brown and grey. Ho Hum.

This morning there were dozens of robins in my backyard, thrashing through leaf litter looking for nourishment.  My sumac tree with its cone-shaped clusters of red berries was an inviting treat for these migrating feathered harbingers.  For us humans, making sumac tea from these wild edibles is supposedly a refreshing autumn drink that tastes like lemonade. Never tried it.

With the sighting of my garden chives peaking through the ground, I guess with Punxsutawny Phil not seeing his shadow this past Feb 2, his forecast of an early spring looks to be correct.

But I am holding out hope for a few more snowy days for painting . Below is a a little stream in Maudsley State Park I painted recently. Brown and grey. Ho Hum.