August 25, 2015

Book Talk

Reading more than one book at a time is a reality for me, so when I heard about Caryl Phillips' book, The Lost Child, I had to read it. Why so eager?  Because Philips incorporates within his novel the imagined origins of Heathcliff, Emily Bronte's death, and how Heathcliff came to be at the Heights. (Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights, that is, by Emily Bronte.) Generally, I don't give away the story but this time I've made an exception.

How did Philips incorporate the above elements into the context of a different novel? There are, of course, related ideas, (lost children for example) but I am left wondering if I knew nothing of Wuthering Heights would I find the information relevant or understand it?  At this point, I am not completely sure. On the other hand, it works precisely because he placed these elements in the beginning, middle, and end of his novel. And he masterly rendered Emily as the strong person she was, and as a contrast, her strength places a subliminal spotlight on his character Monica. What a dichotomy--a complete division it seems until we realize that they are both aloof characters (one real, one imagined) and both outsiders.

Like Wuthering Heights, darkness creeps about and envelopes much of Philips' novel but thankfully, we are left in the dark about the details.  In this, Philips strikes a balance of sorts. However, how did Emily do it? Her novel is dark with details but not completely bleak. Older versus contemporary? Maybe. My guess...Nelly Dean as the gossipy narrator and Mr. Lockwood, the nosy tenant of the Grange, who with levity steps on stage at the beginning of Wuthering Heights. He's a flighty hoot, ambiguous and odd; he says this and means that, but never really nails down what he means. These two ingenious, unreliable characters, and their interactions and opinions, help create a distance that skillfully allows the reader to wade in the darkness without becoming overwhelmed. 

Emily Bronte
* * *

It's still very warm here, but autumn's beauty is on the way. I picked up these leaves on my walk the other day. They remind me of a line from one of Emily Bronte's poems:

Every leaf speaks to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.

Enjoy the week...

August 22, 2015

On A Limb

The golden rod is in full bloom. We've had a lot of rain so it is beautiful and lush along the pathways of my old haunts. I'd post a few more pics but I am currently having an argument with Windows 10. I didn't import my files correctly, so I need to make a few adjustments.

I loved painting this birdie on a limb. I have several more to paint, and when I am finished, I am thinking of opening an Etsy shop.
I hope you are all having a great weekend!
'Til next time...Enjoy...

August 05, 2015

Nature Studies

Drawing recently from nature, Queen Anne's Lace or wild carrot. To me, it's not your average weed. It's intricate and delicate and before it blooms it's wrapped in a wondrous package.
I found wild coneflower, or echinacea too.

To answer a request, I'm including a list of the art supplies I use and a few tips that I've learned.

Staedtler pencils. 2H-6H, (H for hard) but I prefer the 2H, although, occasionally, I use soft leads or B pencils, especially 2B.
FW acrylic inks.
Kneaded Erasers and plastic erasers.
Tracing paper ~ a must, unless you draw straight onto your watercolour paper.
Sketchbooks ~ look for good quality paper.

After researching watercolour paper and trying several different brands, I prefer hot pressed paper for painting.  Fabriano Artistico and Arches are acid free and 100% cotton. I use140 lb weight. (The higher the weight the thicker the paper.) I prefer Fabriano, but I am getting use to Arches. It requires a light hand, but can take several glazes.
I use watercolour blocks that are glued on all four sides; the paper doesn't require stretching.  (There's a small hole at the top of the block, you insert a thin knife and go around the block to remove the sheet from the block when your painting is completely dry.) I also buy large single sheets. It's cheaper that way, but the paper requires stretching or it will buckle and it takes time to cut the sheets into the sizes you want. ( A scary breath holding activity!)

I occasionally use Strathmore Watercolour cards; they are cold pressed ~ not as smooth as hot pressed paper.

Watercolour paints. I mostly use Schmincke and W& N. Windsor and Newton is bright and clear.  Schmincke can look chalky sometimes and I  do like Sennelier paints as well.  I also have a set of Derwent watercolour pencils that I received as a gift. In the beginning, I was using the watercolour pencils to paint with.  Around here, they are cheaper if you buy them individually.

* If you are just starting out, I would recommend that you buy good quality watercolour paper, a few tubes or pans of professional watercolour paint/or good quality watercolour pencils. They do make a huge difference! A (sable or faux sable) #4 watercolour brush is, in my opinion, a must. They are expensive, but should last a very long time if treated well. Never use it to mix paint with. (A tall order--one sometimes forgets.)  And you will annihilate it if you use it to apply FW inks.

Interesting optional items: Masking fluid and Gum Arabic.
Masking fluid is used to cover small stamens etc, that you will paint later, or any area that you want to keep white while you are painting. When it is completely dry, you rub your fingers over it to remove it.

Gum Arabic extends the drying time of paint, adds vibrancy, and is also used to add shine to eyes, reflections etc.

In the end, it's all about personal preferences, so experiment, have fun in the process and you will  find out what works for you.

  Until next time enjoy creating...
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