Easel with tau symbol
This is my easel I bought in Assisi, made of olive wood with a beautiful grain. Note the tau (T-shape) in the middle — the “Tau Cross,” named after the Greek letter, was adopted by St. Francis as a personal symbol. So when I paint, Francis is helping me out.
(You can find out more at the Wikipedia article for Tau Cross.)
A street in Assisi
Earlier this month I got back from a Franciscan Pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy, and one of my hotels was around the corner from this street. We did a great deal of walking to historic sites in the area. Originally built in ancient Roman times, the streets are very narrow by today’s standards but you still had to watch for little cars! When the roads were first built the street level was 7 feet lower that it is now. In several churches they had clear floors so you could see down to the original foundation.
I’ll share more pictures of Assisi and thoughts about my Franciscan “journey” in an upcoming newsletter.
Walking past this little chapel building, I felt an energy and started a quest to find out more about it. It’s currently attached to the Newman Center on its west side (shown in this picture), but it’s had many names, and played an important role in the history of Franciscans in Iowa. I’ll report more when I’ve completed more research!
What buildings do you walk by, that have stories in their past?
For a lesson at the Center, I showed the class how I cut out paper figures and put them on a painting to see where I want to place people and begin the story. The painting below left will show a restaurant on the ped mall which reminded me of Europe with people eating outside. I’m just starting to paint a waiter and a couple drinking wine. There’s always somebody passing by; the figure in front is a “paper doll” to help me decide how the passerby fits into the picture.
At a workshop earlier this year for people facing health challenges (and their loved ones), I asked the group to paint figures representing themselves and cut them out to put into their own adventures. On another sheet they created their own special environment, then showed the group their paper selves and loved ones placed into the painted world. One man painted himself proposing to his wife! In challenging times, the most important thing is relationships, people whose love is a part of your world.
Using a paper doll to decide on figure placement
More figures awaiting their role in a painting
Busy alleyway, downtown Iowa City
In this painting I’m coming out into the alley, on my way to Orange Leaf to get yogurt. Even the alleys are full of people — in this scene are a young student with a flaring blue skirt, a gentleman with a cane, and other students walking in the background. I decided this is what I should paint, trying to capture the things I enjoy about Iowa City (especially the food!).
There are lots of red tile roofs in the Iowa City downtown area, and combining that with the ped mall makes me think of the places I hope to visit and paint. Seashore Hall on the University of Iowa campus (painting at left below) reminded me of the buildings around Assisi. I enjoy how the University has kept their architecture.
The top of a downtown parking ramp provides a vantage point for observing, and I’m not the only one! Other people come up to take pictures and take in the scenery. It’s a different perspective on buildings, and on birds — they fly differently at that height, with no trees to land on.
Red tile roofs bring out memories of painting as I travel
Another Assisi-looking villa
Hen & Chicks Studio logo
(click image to visit website)
I got an early start on Saturday’s fabric painting workshop at Hen & Chicks Studio — Heidi Kaisand invited me to spend Friday night beforehand at The Nest upstairs. The Nest is a dorm-like retreat center equipped for creative sleepovers, divided by colorful doors that I painted. I slept very well and wasn’t lonely, with my artwork surrounding me and a beautiful quilt to sleep under in the 120-year-old building (sorta like being in my 113-year-old bank again!).
At the workshop we practiced painting on fabric using watercolor-like techniques — my samples in the photo below show tape resist, glue resist, stenciling, rubbing, and wet-in-wet using latex house paint. Heidi has posted some great pictures from the event on her blog:
Many thanks to Heidi and everyone in class. We’re already talking about planning the next ones!
Samples of fabric painting techniques — note the birds and blue tape beaks!
Colorful quilts and painted doors at The Nest
It’s great to be home from the Fair, and painting again! Now I have some room in my apartment to make new things. I’m doing samples of fabric painting techniques, getting ready for the Hen and Chicks class on September 7.
The cows (and sheep, and chick) have come home from the Fair and are resting on my blue sofa. Much of the livestock found new homes at the Fair.
I’ve got my bed back from all the artwork now, but the table is full of watercolor to paint the view!
Amber at the booth
Me enjoying a chat with a visitor
This year at the Friends of the Left Bank Studio booth, in addition to meeting people from all over the world, we can enjoy another of the Fair’s big attractions — balloon artist Poppin’ Penelope is right across from us! She’s making sculptures large and small, including the Ferris wheel below made entirely of balloons. Stop by and see us (and Penny) through August 18, in the Cultural Center at the Iowa State Fair.
Update: The 2013 Fair has now ended — I’ll keep you posted about future events on the Classes and Events page!
Penny sculpting with balloons
(she’s a bit blurry since she was dancing too)
Penny’s giant balloon Ferris wheel