A Birthday Gift and a Doggie Detour in Acrylic…

 

Today is my daughter’s birthday, which prompted a fun artistic detour for me last week. It all started with a wedding gift she and her hubby received last summer from my dear friend and exquisite painter, Ann Goble. Ann surprised them with a gorgeous 12X12 oil painting of their beloved dog, Cooper. They treasure it!

13315807_10153879692813089_1858535773711045778_n morgan cooper and ann goble painting crop

painting ©Ann Goble.

Well, they decided their fur-baby needed a companion, and spunky four-month-old lab Maggie joined their family a few weeks later. She’s grown into a beautiful nearly-full-grown dog.  maggie 15747548_10154472617073089_4612668225072901288_n crop ps

I thought she needed her own portrait!  I bought the only 12X12 cradled canvas in stock at my local art supply store, and rummaged through my studio for tubes of acrylic paint.  (Ann’s painting is in rich oils, but I was working with available time and supplies. No way I could replicate her work anyway, but I was aiming for something along the lines of complementary.)

In recent years I’ve been swimming around in mixed media, collage, printmaking, and lettering, but I must admit it was fun to tackle a straight painting.  Hmm… Would it be like riding a bicycle?

Yes – at least it felt that way!  First I filled a couple of sketchbook pages with rough sketches and gesture drawings from a few photographs. (The one above became my primary reference photo.)  I remembered old tricks such as making a drawing upside-down, just focusing on shapes and lines.  (Remember Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain?) I also made a loose grid to guide my composition – folding a copy of my reference picture into 16 squares, and adjusting my drawing on paper accordingly if my rendering seemed too far off in one section or another.

Then I rubbed the back with charcoal and placed my sketch on the canvas, going over the lines again with a pencil to transfer them to the paint surface.  Now it was painting time!

So much fun making a messy mix of colors!

So much fun making a messy mix of colors….

Here’s a rough progression:

IMG_6320 maggie start c

IMG_6321 in process c

Final:

IMG_6326 final maggie c

Ant then the best part, giving it to Morgan:

IMG_6371 robyn and m organ and maggie painting crop p

If it makes them smile, that’s success enough for me for this little artistic side trip.

And, really, any creative project that gets our right-brain synapses firing helps nurture other creative projects, too, don’t you think?

Happy New Artsy Year!!

 

happy-2017-border-c

Greetings from the New Year side of the holidays!  Thanks to all my wonderful customers who’ve filled a stocking or two with artsyletters wares in recent years. It’s an honor to be a part of gift-giving traditions.

I look forward to creating all kinds of new items this year, and more of the offerings which need restocking.  My studio is my happy place. :0)  I’ll resume more “open” hours in February here in Beaufort on Bay Street (this month I’m hibernating with multiple creative writing projects and traveling some, too).  In the meantime, my Etsy shop is open 24-7.

Wishing you and yours an inspiring and creative 2017!

Featured on Elizabeth Dulemba’s Blog Today! (And open downtown this afternoon…)

dulemba-blog-artsyletters

Hi, Friends!  Happy to be featured on my buddy Elizabeth Dulemba’s terrific blog today (waves over The Pond to Scotland).  Be sure to check out the vast treasures at her place if you click the pic above and go visit!

Also, I’ll be hanging out at my studio in downtown Beaufort this afternoon – drop on by if you’re around.

XO

Play. Work. Play. (Boxes of Surprises!)

 

DSC05777 box of blocks

My husband and I couldn’t resist.

We’d gone to the nearby town of Bluffton to the (wonderful!) HighTides Bead Shop – where I couldn’t resist either – and then popped into a few galleries along quaint Calhoun Street.

We came home with a box of blocks.  They are the end pieces that an artist couldn’t use, so he cleverly bundled them up and sold them, box and all.  Jeff wants to carve some, and I want to use some as “grounds” for art.  We have a new box of toys!

This has all reminded me of the importance of play in creating. In other areas of life, too.  I’d started the summer with a dutiful plan to add jogging to my walking routine – walk/jogging a few miles for two days in a row, then taking the third day off. I kept that pattern for a solid couple of weeks.  Until I ended up at my regular neuromuscular massage therapy appointment with a twisted knee in addition to major aggravation to my still-recovering injured neck.

“Did I say you could jog?” asked my therapist. “Most people, when they run, lead with their head!” (a big no-no for me).  “You can walk.  Or ride a bike.”

So I finally did what I’ve intended to do since moving here to the coast– I bought a simple cruising bike at the hardware store.

Robyn and bike 2015 06 crop

 

No gears!  No decisions!  Granted, it doesn’t get my heart rate up quite the same way as running, but I go farther and actually enjoy it.  And a magical thing happens when I climb onto the seat.  I become 10 years old.  Having grown up in Florida and spending countless hours on bicycles, I really do feel like a kid again whizzing by the water and ducking under Spanish moss.

 

 

One more box story.  This week I dragged a box out from under the house, where I put it a year or so ago.  My studio is upstairs in a wonderful historic building smack in the middle of downtown.  I walk in and out, most days, via the wooden stairs in the back. The building is owned by a family which runs a lovely jewelry store, and there’s an art gallery and interior design shop there, too.  I’ve been known to scavenge the boxes they’ve tossed out back.  Maybe I’ve salvaged bubble wrap and shipping boxes.

Anyway, right after moving here, I walked down and saw a large box labeled “Necks.”  Now tell me, would you have been able to just pass it on by?

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Me neither.  To my delight, it was full of discarded jewelry displays for necklaces.  You can see in the pictures that I finally got around to sorting them and deciding some were worth cleaning up and spray painting.

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Somehow I managed to spray a little paint toward my face.  Thankful for glasses.  But then I had to go to my studio and find some mineral spirits to get the specks off.  It was bright and sunny when I left on my errand, and left my sparkly “new” necks out to dry.  But a few blinks later, I was driving back home in a torrential storm.  Oh, well – at least the necks will be really clean.

I’m finally getting around to making some more adventurous jewelry with typewriter keys.  Here are a few examples of necklaces in the works, though I might still add a bit of vintage bling to the chains of the pendants.

1 necklace 2015 07 c

[PS - Got the pewter pitcher at a church thrift store last week for $1.00!]

[PS – Got the pewter pitcher at a church thrift store last week for $1.00!]

two necklaces one pin 2015 07 c

Or perhaps I’ll leave these simple. But  I’ve been amassing all these wonderful treasures to PLAY with… supplies 2015 07

If you’re in the downtown Beaufort area and in a playful mood tonight (Friday), swing by downtown for First Friday After Five.  Several galleries and shops will be open with refreshments and such, including my studio.

first friday poster

Here’s to a summer full of creative surprises!

 

Ahoy! Sea-themed artworks coming to shore…

 

sailors angle c

February winds have made for a blustery bay this week, but that hasn’t stopped visitors from coming to our fair little coastal town.  I’ve been busy conjuring up some “sea-themed” items to offer through artsyletters, especially at my kiosk over in Fordham Market. I wrote a wee bit about this in my author blog post for Poetry Friday last week.

In that post I showed the elements in progress, but above is one of the finished pieces.  These are miniatures, made from cradled wood boards into small shadow boxes.  I painted them black and covered them with acrylic gloss, then antiqued a self-leveling hanger and attached it to the back.

The featured text came directly from

    Crown Jewels
OR
Gems of Literature, Art,
and Music
BEING
Choice Selections from the Writings and Musical Productions of the Most Celebrated Authors, From the Earliest Times

compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., and published in 1888.

It’s actually a refrain to a song, “The Tar for all Weathers,” by Charles Dibdin (1745-1814).  Lucky for me, the refrain appeared a few times, so I made three of these. (I was able to find the author’s name in three spots in the book as well.)  I’ve put two of these at Fordham and listed the third in my Etsy shop.

three sailor shadow boxes c

Here are the words:


But sailors were born for all weathers,
Great guns let it blow high or low,
Our duty keeps us to our tethers,
And where the gale drives we must go.
….

(That line, “Great guns let it blow high or low” has been rattling around in my head since I read it!)

The text is placed atop an original mini-woodcut.  I hadn’t done any printmaking in the months since my neck/nerves injury in the fall, and it felt wonderful last week to carve a block or two and roll out the ink (love that smell) and print some images! The ship’s wheel hanging above the text is hand cast from blackened pewter, from a wonderful Etsy shop specializing in antiqued brass.

Here’s another 4″ by 4″ piece with text from a different poem, “At Sea” by John Townsend Trowerbridge:

DSC04696 trowerbridge poem shadow box c

The text reads:

A heavenly trust my spirit calms,

                my soul is filled with light:

The Ocean sings his solemn psalms,

The wild winds chant: I cross my palms

                Happy as if to-night

Under the cottage roof again

I heard the soothing summer rain.

This little piece features tiny vintage watch parts – a watch hand and a wheel, as well as a lovely vintage brass decorative element.  It was described as a flying mermaid; I’m not sure, but it is some kind of fantastical winged human creature! Fortunately I was able to purchase a few of these, so they will appear in other work, too.

Finally, here is a 6″ by 6″ shadow box/mixed media piece.  Again, I made the background by creating a wave-themed woodcut, printing the black image over a block print of mottled blue and green inks.  It’s from the same book, CROWN JEWELS, and features a poem by Thomas Lovell Beddoes, “To Sea.”  (I’m including a close-up below so you can read the entire poem.)  More vintage watch parts on this one – an ornate golden watch hand from France and a tiny wheel which perfectly shows off the decorative illuminated initial “T.”  The seahorse is a vintage pin, found by an Etsy dealer in eastern Europe!

DSC04703 to sea shadow box 6 X 6 c

TO SEA close up c

Thanks for taking a look.  Wishing you smooth sailing the rest of the week and right out of winter into spring…!

Wonders on the Way…

 

Confession:  Sometimes I drive to work.

It’s only a mile, so when I walk, that’s an easy two miles of exercise to add to the day.  But – when it’s cold, or rainy, or cold AND rainy, I can’t seem to walk past the car outside my door.

My creativity, though, is not fed by wending through traffic but by walking – taking in the surroundings which change each day with the tides, and noting what things remain more or less the same. On walks my wandering mind might be graced with a “haiku moment” or two.  All my senses are engaged.

When I walk to my studio, in the heart of downtown Beaufort, there’s always a wonder along the way.  This year I’ll share some of those here.  Maybe a picture will strike your fancy, offer a spark of inspiration, or simply give you something to ponder.

Like this:

Bay Street Treasures photo ©Robyn Hood Blackl

BAY STREET TREASURES photo ©Robyn Hood Black

Um, how could I not notice the clever use of an old typewriter?! It first caught my eye in the warmer months, and now it’s graced with bright pansies for winter.  This delightful gem welcomes visitors to Bay Street Treasures, a wonderful antique store at the corner of Bay and Charles Streets, across from the marina. It’s owned by Ginny & Allison DeBose and Barbara Marsh .  Ginny and Allison kindly granted me permission to share this bewitching garden art.

I’ve bought a gift or two at Bay Street Treasures, and my hubby spotted just the thing for when I set up on “First Friday” evenings – some vintage stacking metal shelves. display shelves outside narrow

 

Red.

Perfect.


From vintage jewelry to furniture to clever metal oddities in the garden, I’m always tempted in that shop!

 

 

Across the street is another little place you must duck in if you are vintage-inclined – Reflections Old & New.  Friendly proprietors will greet you there as well – Lynda and Doug Bransford  (and their parrot!).  You’ll find just the thing to class up your home or your closet with some elegant history.  I couldn’t resist these antique metal buttons:

BUTTONS FROM REFLECTIONS OLD & NEW photo ©Robyn Hood Black

BUTTONS FROM REFLECTIONS OLD & NEW photo ©Robyn Hood Black

Now, what will I use these for?  Oh, the creative wheels are turning.

Especially when I walk.

First Friday Fun in Downtown Beaufort

 

artsyletters sandwich board sign first friday 11 2014

I might have still been rushing around at 5:00 trying to package cards and bookmarks, but I’m so glad I opened my studio door (for the first time!) for Beaufort’s First Friday last night.  Thanks to everyone who came by to visit, have some cider or cookies, and do a little art shopping.  Special thanks to my hubby Jeff and to friend Barb Ettl, who did all the heavy lifting (literally) as I slowly get back into the swing of work and fun events like this.

Somehow I only managed to get a few pictures, but here’s a peek into the evening:

Hubby Jeff welcomes folks with a small display down at street level on Bay Street.

Hubby Jeff welcomes folks with a small display down at street level on Bay Street.

 

Lots of friends dropped by!  Here I am with Cyndi Allison (aka neuromuscular massage therapist/miracle worker.....)

Lots of friends dropped by! Here I am with Cyndi Allison (aka neuromuscular massage therapist/miracle worker…..)

And friends brought friends! Cyndi came with her beautiful friend, Takiya.

I enjoyed sharing my space with familiar and new faces.  Everyone loved the Modern Jewelers building, which has such historical character.

display shelves outside

framed letters etc.See you in December, when First Friday is on steroids, for Beaufort’s NIGHT ON THE TOWN on Dec. 5!

AD-vantages…

Lowcountry Weekly cover crop sm

 

Just a fun little share today…

 

My shop is one of the featured ones this week in Fordham Market’s LOWCOUNTRY WEEKLY ad.

 

fordham market ad oct 2014 cropInside back cover, bottom corner!  Here’s a better pic of the featured cards – that Raven & Cauldron design does work for this time of year.

copyright cauldron 2

 

These are available in my Etsy shop here.

 

I’m on the mend enough to be spending lots of time in the studio – :0) –  so I’ll share new items soon!

I’ll be adding fun artsy creations from now through the holidays, so thanks for checking in.  I’m also looking forward to opening my studio doors for FIRST FRIDAY in November and December in  downtown Beaufort.