Friday, July 18, 2008

Bas Relief Portrait Sculpture

Cari Amici,

My husband John gave me an early birthday present today. It was a hard drive and a laptop fan. I have needed to archive all of my images and important data, other than on CDs, which I have been using. My laptop is completely full and I have lots of organizing and editing to do. I am definitely an image junky.

One of the projects that I am working on is to create a series of giclée prints from my photographs from Italia. Many of you have been so complimentary of images that you see on my blog and on my site and it is time I made some of those available. But wading through TONS of images has been an intimidating task, to say the least. If you have a request for images you have seen or wonder if I have shot, but not posted online, please contact me soon.

I am only in Texas for less than two months and I want to make sure that I have time to see the tests and even final prints of my images before letting anything out of my studio. And so, I juggle my time between photography and sculpture these days.

In the meantime, the backing-up process led me to re-find this little gem of a bas-relief (“flat” sculpture, like a coin, or what I used to refer to as “puffy painting”). I had attended a short lecture on bas-relief sculpture back on 19 March 2003. During that day, we each took about one hour to try to create our first relief sculpture by doing a portrait of the artist sitting next to us. This was an interesting experience as each of our models was also an artist creating her other neighbor’s portrait!

My sculpture is of Austin, Texas-based sculptor Eloiese Krabbenhoft. After I took this photo, I had to destroy my artwork and return the clay to the speaker. I was bummed actually, but it was a fun exercise and I managed to get a decent likeness too! Thank goodness I had a camera with me.

I hope you enjoy the full moon!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Sculpture Classes

Cari Amici,

There is a change in my sculptural anatomy class – postponing until August. So I just thought I would post this updated schedule for the summer art classes that I am teaching before returning to Italy.

2008 Dates:
* Figure Drawing Class: Tuesday evening 7 - 9 p.m., July 22, 29 + August 5,12,19, 26
* Sculpting Hands and Feet: Saturday, August 2, 1 - 5 p.m.
* Sculptural Anatomy Workshop: Two weekends (Sat and Sun) 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., NOTE NEW Dates: August 16, 17, plus August 23, 24
* Intro to Stone Carving WORKSHOP: Labor Day weekend Aug. 30, 31, + Sept 1; hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
* Intro to Stone Carving CLASSES: Each Monday from 21 July 25 August: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; pay as you go

For prices and other information, visit:
Or e-mail me at or call 512.303.3929 (Texas, USA)

Picassa Web Albums

For a blog writer, there is still so much I do not know or understand about this process. I recently learned that all of the photos that I put on my blog can be seen online as a group on Picassa Web Albums. Only I am not sure how this is supposed to happen. The images are in a photo album, but apparently they are not considered public. If anyone knows how to remedy this situation, please let me know. My album’s address is supposed to be:

Thank you for the information!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bees in Texas

Cari Amici,

When I was a child, I believed it when someone told me that if a bee lands on you, stand very still and it will not sting you. In a field one day, I stood very still and waited for him to fly away. After my nose was stung, I ran towards our family’s apartment on the American military base in Germany, realizing that if I had NOT stood still, the bee could not have made contact with me. As I opened the door to the hall, I stepped on a dead bee in the threshold whose stinger was facing up and got my second sting of the day right between the toes.

Despite this, I have always had a fondness for bees. In college, my friend Jamshid bought me a honeycomb beeswax candle for a gift. I was enchanted enough to find out how it was made and while I still worked as an image preservationist, I started a hobby business making beeswax candles. After building up my business with the aid of the Internet, I sold Lumina Candles & Art in January 2001 to become a full-time artist.

This morning, I looked out of my kitchen window and saw the Texas Green Cloud Sage beginning to bloom lavender flowers. And then I heard the distinctive sound of buzzing. And I saw many little bodies flying around the flowers. I went outside to see a fantastic sight – tons of bees harvesting nectar! How wonderful.

For years, honeybees have been having problems. Migrating Africanized bees were a threat as they took over hives. And several years ago, I heard that the California almond tree farmers were upset that fewer bees meant less pollination for crops. I have never seen here this many bees on one plant, but then, this sage is the only plant around with flowers on it in this 100 degree Fahrenheit weather.

I watched and photographed the bees this morning for quite a while. They were pretty oblivious of me. Oh – in one of the double photographs shown here, there is a green spider on the top of the sage while the bees work the flowers below him. Later, the bees disappeared as the temperature rose. Perhaps tomorrow I can follow them and discover their hive.

PS My apologies for the bluish images. I did not realize that my camera was still set on 'incandescent' light for when I was photographing people in the aeroporto. And the sun was so bright that I rarely saw what I was photographing until I returned inside.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gesso Portrait Cast Study Drawing Florence Italy

Cari Amici,

Here are some images of the man I will be thinking about most of this summer. I miss him already, but had to stop working on him so that the painting workshop with Martinho Correia could begin. My man is the (oh-so-) late banker for the famous Medici family and my mission (which I have chosen to accept) is to create a drawing of the gesso (plaster) copy of the portrait sculpture by Donatello. The original sculpture is a terra cotta with colored glazes in the Bargello, Florence, Italy’s beloved sculpture museum (and I understand a former prison). I have always been drawn to this work, but barely recognized it all in white gesso.

Here you can see my set up with my drawing next to the plaster cast. Shadows are created by hanging stuff between the light source and the art in a manner that gives desired or at least interesting results. I am using the sight-size method, which means, among other things, that I will be getting plenty of exercise. I stand away from my drawing at some specific point, usually around three times the depth of the original. I decide upon a “click-in” spot to help me view my work and the original from the same angle each time. From this vantagepoint, I look and study. I make relationships. Then I advance to make a mark on the paper. Retreating, I realign my stance and check this mark. A lot of pacing, but the results are great training for the eye.

This particular project seems sexier to me than my other charcoal drawings. This time I am using a grey Roma paper with not only black charcoals, but also white pastels. The image above shows the grey paper with only the black added. The image below shows the beginning of the addition of white. I am using a Rembrandt white pastel, since it is the whitest I have found thus far. This technique gives me a better tonal range possible in the drawing. Mmm mmm mmmmmm

The idea of using the grey paper is to incorporate more of the paper into the design. White and black should never meet. There should always be some grey between, no matter how little. Otherwise, I will get mud. Thus far, I am in love and I intend to feed that love until I can get back to him in September.

In the meantime, I am designing some sculptures. Stay tuned . . . same bat channel.