Sunday, March 31, 2013

Paste painting (and a couple of snakes)

Somehow an entire week has passed, uncommented'd think we didn't get up to anything around here, but my online time has been eaten up mostly by preparing for upcoming coop classes and by spending face-to-face time with Dan, who, after handing in his finished first draft of the dissertation, is having a much-deserved slower week.  It has been so nice.  So, in the interest of catching-up, before we get to the painting, the weekend...we went to an equinox event at the nature center at the local college...the girls entered and placed in an art contest, and got to hold snakes! (*warning - gruesome and so interesting a photo of a python eating a rabbit, below...)

we watched this on and off for a couple of hours!
 Sunday returned to winter. Large, fluffy flakes fell on Ani and me as we made our way to our friends' house for some art making.

My friend Molly is teaching at the unversity this year, and once in a while I manage to involve myself in her preparations for class.  Sometimes that means learning how to stitch a book binding; this week it meant learning how to make paste painted paper, which is traditionally used in bookmaking, as endpapers.

First, there is the paste part.  I was responsible for providing this; it was water and rice flour, using a 7:1 ratio of water to flour and a lot of adjusting along the way.  I started with a base amount - 1 3/4 cups water to 1/4 cup flour, mixing the 1/4 cup flour with 1/4 water, heating the rest of the water to boiling and combining them.  I later discovered that I should have kept it all boiling for a bit, stirring to keep out the lumps, and it would have thickened nicely, but I eventually got there.  I also went for it and made up the rest of my 2 pound bag of flour, which made for a large pot of paste.  You let it cool, and as it does so, it thickens some more.

At Molly's, we added the ends of lots of different paints to the paste (in individual cups) - tempera and acrylic, and mixing those as well.  It was a total experiment but not a science if you get what I mean. It was also a great lesson for me in how to combine colors!! I had no idea that to make a color darker you have to add its complimentary color (how did I miss that?).  Adding black sometimes helps too.

Molly demonstrated how to work with the paste paint, covering the page well but not too thickly.  I imagine it depends on how wet the paint turns out, but you want your paper to hold up to quite a bit of manipulation, so don't over-wet it.

the tools
 Then you start playing! It was quite a bit like fingerpainting but more...refined. Right? Adults don't fingerpaint...they play with combs! And toothbrushes! And basically anything that you think might leave an interesting-looking track through the paint.  Add paint, use layers of colors if you can also basically wipe out what you've done, with a sponge or a brush, and begin again, if your paper isn't starting to come apart.  We used a paper that had a sheen to it, not quite glossy but definitely not super absorbent.

I was admiring this tiny design, and asked if I could copy her.
Molly's reply was "well, I didn't invent the grid..."  Ha!

Ani's turn to try...

I didn't get pictures of most of what came out of this day, as I was busy trying it myself, but here are a few more...

Ani and Noah decided that they were maybe more interested in another kind of painting...

...and finally ended up going outside to make good use of the last snow of the year (can you hear how hopeful my voice is?).

Monday, March 25, 2013


This gallery post is so diverse, I'm not really sure what to say about it...other than, here it is!! Art!

Ani's crow, my basket peeking out...
Contour drawing
Eliza's squash

A charcoal cat that Eliza is particularly pleased with

Ani's 3-D paper turtle
Ani's funky abstract art du jour
Working on her crocheted t-shirt rug

Ani's watercolor entry in an art contest - she won first in her age group!

Eliza's collage entry for an art contest - same here! first place!

Ani's splash art monster 
Ani's monster

What Ani does while listening to stories...
Paper people! With dogs!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Last week and this...

This is what a lot of last week looked like.  I think some of it was Eliza catching up from her trip to Texas (want to see some awesome pictures?? Our dearest friend Tokarz has posted them on her new blog, Cold Coffee - there's a link in the side bar...), some of it was fighting off a mild dizzying, achey virus, some of it was hating how cold it is here, when it was so nice there...a sort of post-vacation blues, I guess.

Ani was pretty willing to go along with the listen-to-stories-till-your-ears-fall-off mode of things, as she was still recovering from her own illness. We were a pretty quiet bunch.

This week started that way as well, with an extra layer of General Funk, and I wasn't quite sure how to help us navigate through it.  My skin is thin right now, and I'm to the bottom of my barrel of resources - or at least, that is how it feels, until the miracles of friendship and community and  nature all show up to remind me that the bottom is actually so much further away, and I just need to lift my head. Or ask for help.  So, Monday, we sent Ani - full of energy and longing for her friend Ari - out to Turtle Hill Farm for a sleepover; Eliza and I had a much-needed day together, laughing, talking, and just hanging out with each other.  It was actually amazing; bedtime tends to be a rough time for this girl.  All of the aches and pains of the day surface, and added to the litany of "my ___ hurts, Mama" there sometimes are tears.  It's been this way almost always, to varying degrees, but lately, with growing pains, sickness, missings, longings, and the added family stress that inevitably filters down through us all, it seems to be harder.  But on Monday, after such a day of connecting, there was peace. It was remarkable.

Tuesday we got out to Turtle Hill ourselves, to pick up Ani, but first to go for a long hike in their was so beautiful.

my first Spring Beauty of the year!

One of the first spring mushrooms - Scarlet Cup

The first hepatica of the year! I take photos of the same flowers every spring (if you don't believe, me, look in the archives; it's true.), but this spring feels so welcome, so deserved, as we actually had a winter, that it's like photographing a friend I haven't seen in so long...This whole hike was like that, finding proof - crawdads! water striders! spring wildflowers! - that the seasons are changing.