Friday, September 30, 2011

From the Bookshelf

I've been reading and watching everything I can find about Istanbul. Thinking of doing an altered book or vicarious travel journal set there. I came across this lovely volume. Intriguing text (John Cleave) and stunningly gorgeous watercolour sketches (John Freely), take us to all sections of this ancient and amazing city.

Spanning two continents and at various times ruled by the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, there is glorious architecture and evidence of a vast historical past down every winding alley and in every marketplace. When I finished this wonderful tome I was ready to pack my bag and buy a plane ticket. Very enjoyable!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Copper-Clad Wonders

Debra Jurey's In a Tuscan Olive Garden - earrings

A few weeks ago my friend Debra and I were getting our pieces ready for Arts Obispo's 6x6 exhibit. We will be sharing my studio space for the upcoming Open Studios this October. She's a maker of exquisite jewelry and was turning in a pair of earrings and wondering how best to display them. I came up with this idea - the inside back of a 6x6" canvas. The earrings featured lovely copper seed beads, so I covered the back edges with distressed copper.

The Watchmaker's Tale 6x6"

Well, she loved it. Everyone who saw it loved it. And it was one of those "AHA!" moments. If I could do it for her earrings - I could do it for tiny assemblages as well.

Concerto for Viola and Bassoon 6x6"

Here are the first two results - The Watchmaker's Tale and Concerto for Viola and Bassoon. Copper sheeting, distressed and affixed with upholstery nails lines the edges. The opening is painted with dark acrylic. Embellishments, including a vintage organ stop, bassoon reed and string peg, and watch parts and glass vials are attached with heavy gel medium and wire. A double wax seal tops each small vignette. Two more for Open Studios in October.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cigar Box Wednesday

These are not only cigar boxes, but they are also tins which makes them eligible twice to be on a Cigar Box Wednesday post. They originally held very slender cigars - remember "Cigars, cigarettes, Tiparillos?" sort of like that.

And they hold small plastic ants and beautiful butterflies. I used a bunch of these a few years ago in my Young Naturalist assemblage. They wait patiently in these small slim tins until I need them again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

25 Highgate High Street

25 Highgate High Street 6x12"

Stepping into Highgate Cemetery is not only stepping into another time, but another world as well. Over the centuries greenery has reclaimed many of the monuments and gravestones, tree roots wrap around statues and fog shrouds the mausoleums.

In this piece I wanted to capture that nostalgic poignancy. A collage of several different pictures of the cemetery covers the canvas, stenciled with one of Mary Beth Shaw's and daubed here and there with light green acrylic to simulate mossy overgrowth.

A silver cross, tarnished with Staz-On, a rusty iron cross and a ceramic bit of tombstone sweep down the piece in a loose diagonal. The number plate (Tim Holtz) and bits of paper tape (7Gypsies) complete the picture. Another for next month's upcoming Open Studios.

Monday, September 26, 2011

82 Charing Cross

82 Charing Cross 6 x 12"

A wall of distressed bricks (HO layout supplies) anchors the bottom of this piece while beaten copper runs across the top. The canvas is covered with a xerox copy of a Victorian engraving, stenciled and embellished.
Old watch parts, a frozen Charlotte, vintage water tap, wooden (Small Studios) and metal gears (Tim Holtz and 7 Gypsies), sealing wax, the number platte (Tim Holtz) and an ivory piano key top are affixed with heavy gel medium and wire. A string of swivel clasps (Tim Holtz) holds jewelry parts and more gears.

This is a companion piece to 14 Brick Lane and will be on offer at October's Open Studios.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life on the Coast

You know it's late summer when the marigolds reach their peak and await seed harvest. This shot along Los Osos Valley Road, as it winds its way out of San Luis Obispo towards the sea.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cemetery Saturday

A few last shots from San Luis Obispo Cemetery.

Markers over a hundred years old.

People born almost two hundred years ago

Florid tombstones, humble plaques -
all rest in eternal peace together.

Friday, September 23, 2011

From the Bookshelf

I found this little gem at a library discard sale for a couple of bucks. It is one of the famous Tashen Icon series and is packed full of wonderful engravings. So interesting to look at and look again and again, as each one is full of layers and layers. It is impossible to see everything on the first viewing. Eye candy that keeps on giving! I know lots of this public domain work will be xeeroxed and find its way into layers of my work.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

15 Rose Lane

15 Rose Lane 6x6"

Steampunk in Stepney. A 6x6" canvas covered with a xerox of a Victorian engraving, stenciled and stamped. A strip of copper anchors the right hand side and is decorated with sealing wax, a copper earring disc and a large watch gear. Funky ring trim flanks it.

A large rose button centers the piece and is attached with wire. Wooden gears (Small Studios) are topped with mini wire mesh roses. A number plaque (Tim Holtz) and a cameo disc complete the work.

I am really enjoying this series. It's quite fun picking out the various bits and bobs to embellish with and, research geek that I am, I love finding the London street names - my best source has been the 1891 Streets of London. This piece available at October's Open Studio.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stacks o' Stacks!

Hop on over to Seth Apter's The Altered Page today and see everybody's stacks - of books, of journals, of paper and, as they say, So Much More!!

Here's mine - stacks of vintage books, purchased on our England trip several years ago. I found them at jumble sales, boot sales, second-hand bookshops on Charing Cross Road and street markets, including the huge one on Portobello Road in Notting Hill. They provide endless inspiration, great xerox copies of pictures and text and are just so lovely to look at.

Thanks to Seth for the idea -
go check out everyone's stacks!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Name is Erin and I'm an Organizer

I am that strange being - an artist that thrives on organization. Now that isn't to say I can't make a mess - just come and look at my art table when I'm in the middle of a big project. But I love cleaning up, re-storing everything and creating order out of chaos.

I have not had a complete (or correct) listing of my supplies since I moved my studio out of the great room a year ago last May - preparing for Open Studios and then immediately after creating the 20 pieces for The Pity of War filled my time and then some.

But over the last couple of months I've been making lists (and yes! checking them twice - sometimes thrice) and sketching out little maps of where all the art supplies, tools and ephemera are stored.

And the nerdy/geeky thing is - I'm having a blast doing it. I love seeing the lists grow and knowing I can think "Hmm... now where are the maj jong counters?" and looking on the list and finding them between maj jong cards and maj jong tiles and seeing that they are in Locker Basket #1 on the white shelves north of the art table.

I know, you're shaking your head and rolling your eyes - but hey, it keeps me off the streets and makes me such a happy girl!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Pulse Continues

Seth Apter's The Pulse continues with "Tools & Techniques". Seth asked over 150 artists to list their favourites, and the answers started with yesterday's post on The Altered Page. And I'm not sure how, but yours truly is the first artist listed! Extra fun to be in this premier chapter with Anne Bagby and Stephanie Hilvitz! Check out the link.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life on the Coast

The herons are back. We're not sure where they go now and then. But every few months we don't see them on our evening harbour walks, and then in a month or two they're back. They are so graceful and beautiful and seeing one take off into the sunset sky is exquisitely heart-stopping.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cemetery Saturday

There are quite a few military graves
at the San Luis Obispo Cemetery.

I was struck by the many different wars represented - the Mexican War of the 1840's, the American Civil War, WWI, WWII, and more recent conflicts as well.

Dichotomous proof that as a race we never learn,

but also, that there are always brave individuals
willing to sacrifice to protect what they believe in.

Friday, September 16, 2011

From the Bookshelf

When I bought my new camera last February it came with a deal from Shutterfly for a free photo book. You take your pictures, sit down at the computer and design a book. They print it up and sent it to you. Right from the beginning I thought it would be a wonderful way to document my pieces from my solo show "The Pity of War".

Well, it took awhile to get around to it (big surprise!) but finally I did and I now have the result in my hands. There was room for all 20 pieces and an ending page with an artist statement and list of where the show was exhibited. I 'm pleased with how it turned out and what a pleasure to have this lasting tribute.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

14 Brick Lane

14 Brick Lane 12x6"

Another steampunk creation - to the East End for this one - 14 Brick Lane, in the Spitalfields area of London. I started by painting the edges of a 12x6" canvas in dark brown acrylic and then adhered the xerox copy of a Victorian engraving with matte medium. A sheet of distressed copper, attached with decorative thumb tacks tops the canvas and is strewn with sealing wax.

My favourite Mary Beth Shaw stencil provides accents in a muted black acrylic. Embellishments were affixed with wire and/or heavy gel medium and include metal gears from Tim Holtz and 7 Gypsies and wooden gears from Small Studios and a piece of piano key ivory topped by a copper leaf stamping. A frozen Charlotte, cold water faucet handle, and the #14 (Tim Holtz) add bright spots of white.

A chain of swivel clasps (also from Tim Holtz) swings down the left side and holds various metal bits. A small slab of tumbled tile serves as a mounting block for vintage watch works.
Available at Open Studios next month.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cigar Box Wednesday

I think this may be my oldest cigar box - I love how distressed it is, and the still beautiful artwork on the inside lid.

It's full of - metal Leaves - shiny, rusted, thick, thin, different colours, different sizes.

All waiting to adorn the front of a journal or to be the crowning touch of an assemblage.

Flea markets, swap meets, Art from Scrap, - it's Autumn - leaves are everywhere!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Stenciling Fun

Have spent the summer slowly working my way through Mary Ann Moss's wonderful Stencilry on-line class. Over the weekend I spent an afternoon with cans of paint and a variety of stencils and had a blast coming up with these beauties.

The idea of doing it on these old sea charts happened when I need a piece of large paper to lay down over wet paint - a huge roll of the charts was by my table I just grabbed one and used it and-AHA! suddenly saw the possibilities.

I think they look pretty cool.

Monday, September 12, 2011


A few weeks ago I did a post about the wonderful old neon signs we'd come across on our trip to the Berkeley area - including the Hotsy Totsy Club.

My wonderful wife Margot did a little Internet research and found that they have shirts - and, a few days ago, she presented me with one!

We've already decided that the next time we're up that way we'll have to make it a point to stop in and have an exotic cocktail or two - after all the Hotsy Totsy has been "keeping Albany tipsy since 1939"!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Life on a Different Coast - Polperro, Cornwall

A lovely September afternoon at the outer harbour in Polperro, Cornwall. The sea scattered with sun pennies and warm enough to enjoy a paddle.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cemetery Saturday

After the swap meet last week, I stopped by the San Luis Obispo Cemetery which is right next door.

It was a lovely sunny Sunday morning and the graveyard was quite and peaceful after the hub-bub of the swap meet.

This is a fairly small cemetery, but well tended and full of familiar names from the county's history. And, as always, in these old memorial grounds, many heart-rending stones whose dates are just a few years or months. So many children lost at such an early age.

There is a military section with many civil war graves which we'll visit next Saturday.