Making vs. Thinking and Scrolling

In January, I started a new organizational system. That led to tackling some business aspects of my art practice: updating my website, updating my CV, fussing with connecting social media accounts and email, looking for grant opportunities, teaching a few online classes, and generally thinking and researching about the administration side of my art business. There is still more to be done and much more to learn about this side of selling artwork. The system is all about setting weekly priorities from a big workflow of tasks.

So, I’m moving making to the top priority for the next 4 weeks. All this thinking about business goals has been a good reset, but I’m ready to put form and color on the page. I started new art journals and am spending daily time painting just to paint and see what comes. Already familiar themes are popping up: flowers, fish, landscapes, invented pottery. I’m keen to push on, play with color, shapes, and different subjects before developing a few ideas into paintings.

I’m excited to see what comes and share it with you soon!

Huckleberries in Bird Vase SOLD

Finding Color

Top right corner of mixes

Out of 1,600 squares, I estimate I have 400 left. Each square is painted with a mix of 2 tube watercolors- approximately 50/50. Tube colors are arranged in a list repeated on the top and one side. This way each mix can be shown once at a deep strength and once as a pale version. A diagonal line runs through the center of the blocks. This is where the true tube colors meet. I’m eager to use this guide in my painting and have already noticed some rich mixes that I haven’t typically been using.

Close up

Devil’s Club Oil

Infusing Devils Club into oil

First, I always review the excellent Youtube video of Tlingit elder Helen Watkins sharing her wisdom about appropriate harvesting and infusing. I follow all her suggestions and recipe. Always do research, before harvesting a new plant. This important plant has been used by peoples in nearby coastal regions for centuries and in this land is used by Tlingit peoples for a variety of uses. The Devil’s Club I used was harvested along the path to our house to reduce the probability of our young son encountering its spines.

Planning thoughts for Devil’s Club oil and uses:

-bug bite soothing salve, bug bite prevention salve, massage oil for sore muscles, salve for sore muscles.

I’m convinced straight Devils Club salve works the best for soothing mosquito bites if applied directly after. However, I’m hopeful that adding other oils that have been known to prevent bites, could be successful in a salve.

A simple search for bug unfriendly oils gave me a list to begin with: citronella, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, and tea tree.

A simple search for oils to sooth sore muscles suggested: peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus. Also, lavender comes up when searching for calming oils.

I think I’ll try four mixes: a strong heady anti bug mix with DC/eucalyptus/tea tree, a milder anti bug mix with lavender/lemon, a sore muscle rub with peppermint, and one with lavender.

Updates on the final mixes to come.

Recycled Valentines Cards

(close up) Hearts Entwined: original card series

I’ve been shuffling a growing stack of reject paintings around. I accidentally picked up a couple pads of student grade watercolor paper awhile back and found it unacceptable for finished work, so now I mostly use it for warm ups and experiments. Recently I’ve been organizing and streamlining the studio while waiting for washes to dry. One night, I impulsively chopped a few paintings into greeting card size then added simple entwining vines, leaves, and a heart. Tangles of vines remind me of celtic knots, I’ve incorporated them in a few paintings in recent years, its a painter version of a puzzle of maintaining a form while twisting and overlapping. For this, I wanted to give balance between the two vines, while one might encircle the other, they aren’t strangling each other, they are supporting.

(close up) Hearts Entwined: original card series

Some of the old paintings were too dark to add to, so I experimented with some poppies (a new still life choice for me), cut them out, and added a stem.

It was refreshing to jump into a painting that already didn’t feel precious. It was salvage or the wastebasket and I enjoyed the process. After one long evening of painting, I had 14 original cards and I’m ready to tackle painting a vase of poppies.

Edible Still Life Subject

It was a treat to create this local food inspired art for Salt & Soil Marketplace in Juneau, Alaska. A friend texted me the call for an artist and after a few scribbled sketches I worked up a full scale pencil sketch of this image and submitted it. I’m thrilled they chose me as their poster artist for 2019. This is the first time I’ve had posters made of my work and it was great fun to see it around Juneau. Their call for 2020 art is up on their website with all the details of what they are looking for. Also, the 2019 poster is available through them. http://saltsoilmarketplace.com

Original work created for Salt & Soil Marketplace in Juneau, Alaska. watercolor

When designing the composition, I initially strove to include different categories of foods (both harvested and grown in Southeast Alaska) and create a pleasing flow that could translate to watercolor and allow mellow space for a logo. I decided to focus on produce (although they do offer soaps and other products) and set the scene to Southeast Alaska on a sunny day with simple leading ridgelines and a troller fishing salmon in the background. *Special thanks to my brother for letting me use his boat as a model. After getting the job, I reworked the original sketch further considering both texture and color. I also consulted with the marketplace folks to ensure that all items are at some point available through their venue. They gave me the idea of the garlic scapes which formed the perfect leading lines to create texture in the greens and focus the eyes on the logo.

I’m typically inspired by real life moments and supplement my ideas and memories of objects with photos. I’m typically too slow to sketch and finish painting from a still life.

Hanging Basket: Lupine (not edible!), nasturtium, and red cabbage.

My garden and the wild edibles around us often inspire me to take photos. The gorgeous color of this red cabbage gave this mostly green hanging basket some needed depth. On a cabin trip, I was captivated by the crab apples, harvested more seed, and they are now on my composition list for future paintings, along with more thimble berries, and salmon berries.

Mostly overripe crabapples on a sunny beach.

Often I paint small groups of similar subjects. Recently, I focused on sketching tangles of nasturtiums and understanding their structure. The way they intertwine reminds me of celtic knots and I included some subtle knotting in some of the compositions. I also chose to experiment with backgrounds in colors other than blue. The tendency of nasturtium vines to include both green and red proved tricky and deserves to be part of another series of studies. The final painting has a bit more green. I enjoyed pushing the depth on these vines and this close up shows the layering and choices.

close-up of (in-progress) Nasturtium Tangle with Patterned Bowl, watercolor (SOLD)
(Before final details) Nasturtium Tangle, watercolor

Our berry varieties provide opportunities to record the structure of edible flowers, fruit, and foliage, depending on the season. I will sometimes sketch or photograph to record structures. This simple painting of cloudberries was inspired by the sketch I did on top of Spaulding Meadows to record their structure.

(Before final details) Cloudberry Study, watercolor (SOLD)

I often include windows with mountain backgrounds in my still life paintings. This winter the conifers are reminding me to create a variety of treetops in my ridgelines, and include both hemlock and spruce the mix.

Find more of my images on Instagram: @schrameklisa or #lesahandmade

Cloudscape: Auke Bay, watercolor (SOLD)

Jumping Media

Watercolor has always been a favorite method for translating my ideas, but sometimes I crave a different process, feel stuck, or need some novel creative time. Blockprinting is an interesting puzzle and I relish the high contrast look.

Alpine Alaska Cotton L.E.S.A.

This new (almost finished) acrylic work was an entertaining challenge. I couldn’t find my bottom of medium anywhere and had forgotten how much I prefer painting with it.

I was enjoying the outcome, but the simple dark stem suggestions in the lower left are nagging at me and the close seed heads need more depth too. I’m still thinking about how to finish this one.

In the meantime, my tangents have me feeling inspired to work in some playful watercolors, but I’m not ready to compose, so I’m loosening up with stationary (something I haven’t done in ages) by painting an envelope/card.

At this point, I have ten envelope forms near completion (the card comes from the center) and I like them enough that I may put some out there (typically I copy them for my own correspondence).

It is such a brown winter here this year, colorful flowers are welcome and I’m feeling the cozy pottery pull too. So it may be back to still life bouquets and vases next! (Once I finish the cowl I’m knitting)

Lisa. #lesahandmade

Managing Digital Images

Nasturtiums & Cranes watercolor 2006

Taking a dive into my disheveled image files to bring more color and examples of my artwork to the website. This site is meant to reflect my work as both teacher and maker. At the moment, a tiny sample is on display, but there is more to come! My image collection starts with data on CDs. Any hardcopy photos are just too poor to display. When my old computer expired unexpectedly, the data was retrievable but scattered, so it will be a process to organize old photo files. I’m share I’m not the only one!

Sitka Rose watercolor 2018

Huckleberries watercolor 2018

Bubble Feeding Whales ink 2018

Tiny Sitka Rose watercolor 2018

Website Purpose

I’ve been thinking lately about why I need to keep this website up and running. I imagined making regular posts as an outlet for my creative work. This has not happened! I started using Instagram and find that to be a convenient way to share images, without writing. However, I DO want an online destination for folks to hold images and writing I’d like to build and share over time. At some point, I will be rejoining the workforce and I want to have a resource ready to explore.

My point: Time for an evolution and repurposing of this site. This spring, I’m embarking on 2 college classes to meet the education requirements to renew my teaching certification. So here it goes! New pages and lists and hopefully new images.

Managing Expectations

In college, I had a rabbit that laid on my sketches for drawing class- while I was trying to work on them.

Now, our son uses the same trick. He will happily play until the sketch pad comes out. He loves peekaboo! Knitting instead!

I got some knitting done… then the toddler found the project. This will take some finishing.