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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pottery, Parks & Art Journaling

It's early in the morning here in Richmond. The sun has just come up. Everyone is sleeping but me. We're having fun visiting with Chris and Kyla. Picked up our "painted pottery" yesterday. The last time we were here we went to "All Fired Up" on Cary Street, downtown - one of those places that have the raw pottery and the paints and when you are done, they fire it and you go back a couple weeks later to pick it up. It's so much fun to see how the colors look on the finished piece! Kyla painted a little pink jewelry box with a peace sign on the top; Chris, a big mug and I did a cute little bowl in colors that will match my kitchen. It is so much fun to do this, I wish we had a place in Milford to do it! Maybe I should take some ceramics classes and learn it from scratch.

I had promised her we would also get a cupcake at Baby Cakes - she likes the chocolate one with chocolate frosting (she is my granddaughter!) and we walked around a bit and window shopped before heading to the park to play. She is growing like a weed! I adore these times with her. She is such a delight.

So, I'm up early, checking out my email, facebook, and "surfing" the net for sites related to "Art Journaling." I sort of discovered this term, searching for other people/info on watercolor journaling and find there are many sites related to this form of expression. I joined one of them called "Art Journaling. It's all good" last week and think it will be a good place to share art, see and be inspired by what others are doing. It's very exciting to see what is being done.

Some of my watercolor journals from Italy - watercolor, pen and ink on Moleskine journals

This type of journaling is different from what I do in that it is more "free form" if you will but the basic idea of the journal being done just for you, a personal expression remains the same. Artists are using everything under the sun to create journal pages that are full of color and imagery - some found art - the ephemera of their lives, anything that tells a story, their own personal story in extremely creative ways and it inspires me to push further, try new things, experiment. I discovered Quinn Creative. She is also a "creativity coach," helping others to bring out their own creative selves. Fascinating. I also found a site called "Daisy Yellow. A vivid life with kids" on art journaling. So much good stuff out there!

I am about to turn a new page. Start a new chapter. Push away from the safe harbor and enter a different world. This coming week I expect to have all my stuff in my new studio. Scott should have finished all the woodwork and trim and there is no excuse now for not setting up shop officially and getting to work. I'll be honest with you, as exciting as it is, it's also pretty scary. No computer to distract me, no TV. Just me and my easel, some paper, pens, brushes and paints. How will I structure my day? What comes next? I'd like to keep a record of how this plays out, what I'm doing, how I'm feeling. And perhaps I'll feel brave enough to share it with whoever is out there reading this. To my artist friends - any advice? suggestions? words of wisdom? I'd love to hear from you. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Riding the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad

We picked up a brochure at the visitors office in Oil City about the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad, checked the schedule and decided we just had to do it. So we added another day to our stay there and arranged to take this 3-hour round trip train ride that takes you through beautiful Oil Creek State Park.

The town of Titusville is also one of the Oil Region Alliance towns that first discovered oil in the 1850s. It's about half an hour's drive from Oil City.

With the fall foliage and lovely weather, riding in the open gondola car for part of the trip was breathtaking in places. The vintage passenger cars themselves - pulled by a 56-year old Alco S-2 engine - are quite comfortable. And we were able to purchase postcards and mail them from the "only operating Railway Postal Car" in the country!

Across the street from the station Bob photographed the Wabash Cannonball

The Perry Street Train Station Sign

Titusville and the railroad station

Going over a bridge

Views of the Allegheny River from the train

Fall Colors - making our way through Oil Creek Valley

Oil Creek

Interior of the train - the seat backs flop back and forth so you are always facing forward regardless of what direction the train is going.

The Conductor, with the yellow Engine coming back to hook up with the rest of the train

Passenger car exterior

The Caboose Motel is located on the tracks next to the Perry Street Station in Titusville. You can stay in one of 21 actual cabooses that has heat and a/c, showers, telephone and TV, May through October. 1-800-827-0690. We think it would have been fun to stay in one if we had known ahead of time!

...more to come on our trip to Michigan

A Day in Oil City, PA

Oil City is in Northwestern Pennsylvania where Oil Creek flows into the Allegheny River. It is part of the Oil Heritage Region, Inc. an officially designated Pennsylvania Heritage Park. In 1859, Colonel Edwin Drake drilled the world's first commercial oil well here that started a "chain of events that literally changed the world." In 2004, t was established as the 25th National Heritage Area in the U.S., a place where "natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography."

At the Visitors Office (a former train depot) or the Chamber of Commerce you can pick up brochures for walking/driving tours of the downtown and residential historic districts. This area is so chock full of beautiful, fascinating, historical, cultural and just plain fun things to do, we ended up staying a second night and wish we had more. We barely scratched the surface.

Here's some of what we saw on our first day in and around Oil City:

Beautiful White Victorian Home

Street scene in Oil City

Art on the sidewalk - decorative Storm Grates

Steeples of St. Joseph Church

St. Joseph Church, high on a hill and visible all over town

Oil City Railroad tracks

Green Craftsman style home in Oil City

Division Street

Statue of Seneca Chief called Cornplanter. We found his statue next to the river bank with a plaque that said we were standing on part of the land reserve granted to him in gratitude for his efforts to maintain peace along the frontier in the late eighteenth century.

C. Lockhart sign, one of many historical markers located around the town

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trip to Michigan by way of Oil City, (more like "Art City!") PA

On Thursday last week Bob and I packed up the car for a 12-hour drive to St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, Michigan to meet our good friends Art and Chris from Phoenix, Arizona for a memorial service for Art's folks who both passed away. We got to know Floyd and Ginny very well through the years when they would come to visit and we were always welcome to join in. Ginny was such a sweet, dear person, I fell in love with her. Maybe she reminded me a bit of my own Mom who has been gone now since 1995, and she had such a warm and accepting way about her, she was easy to love. We became "pen-pals" when we lived in Italy and we would send her post cards and get lovely letters from her in return that continued when we came home. She was extremely proud of her son and daughter and their beautiful families and always spoke about them in her letters. I will miss her presence in my life.

We were glad to also be able to spend time with Art and Chris, however brief, so it was well worth the trip. We very much enjoyed exploring the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area and I'll be writing about that in another post.

A brief lunch break in DuBois, PA on the way to Oil City.

On the Allegheny Plateau along Interstate 80, with a charming historic downtown, DuBois (da-boys'), Pennsylvania proved a nice place to stop for lunch.

We couldn't resist all the pumpkins for sale in this front yard (to benefit a local charity) in DuBois.

DuBois' Reitz Theatre, at 36 East Scribner Avenue was built in 1887 as the home of the Cornerstone Baptist Church. It somehow survived the fire of 1888, which destroyed most of the city and was turned into a theater in 1992.

A 2-night stop-over in Oil City, Pennsylvania

We decided to break the drive up into two 6 hour drives and to spend the night in a town called Oil City, Pennsylvania. I subscribe to a magazine called Art Calendar and every month there is this tiny ad in the back entitled "Artist Relocation Project" Oil City, PA. They are targeting working artists to come and "live your dream in a beautiful, historic rural town near urban markets" with houses under $25,000 and many more under $50,000. We were so intrigued by the whole idea of this. When we looked at the map to see where the halfway point might be, there was Oil City!

We had to go there and check it out. Admittedly, it was a bit off the beaten path but not so much that it wasn't worth it. What a fascinating history it has! Here's what Wikipedia had to say: ..."Colonel Edwin L. Drake drilled the first commercially successful oil well on August 27, 1859, in nearby Titusville. A number of boomtowns came to life in the region including: Oil City, Titusville, Petroleum Center, Pithole, and Rynd Farm. Barges were used to transport the oil down Oil Creek and into Oil City, where it was transported to steamboats or bulk barges to continue on to Pittsburgh and other locations. Oil City was founded in 1860. The city was partially destroyed by flood in 1865 and by both flood and fire in 1866 and again in 1882; on this last occasion, several oil tanks that were struck by lightning gave way, and Oil Creek carried a mass of burning oil into the city, where some 60 lives were lost and property valued at more than $1 million was destroyed. Oil City grew into a thriving community through the later half of the 19th century and into the 20th century. By the 1990s, Pennzoil, Quaker State, and Wolf's Head had all relocated their headquarters elsewhere. However, some oil wells continue to produce a steady supply of quality petroleum."

You can imagine what happened to Oil City when the oil companies who had so polluted this area pulled up stakes and left. But the creek and river are now clean of oil and fly fishermen can be seen throwing out their lines. The downtown is a charming mix of historic buildings, restaurants, art galleries and Victorian homes. The mountains that surround it were ablaze with fall color and the town is trying to revitalize itself by supporting and promoting the arts and tourism and there is a great deal of potential for this to happen.

Oil City Center for the Arts - The National Transit Building was built in 1890 as the National Transit Company by John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil, it is now the home of galleries and 25 artists' studios with room for more. It is an impressive structure, built in Richardsonian Romanesque style, with tons of terra cotta decoration, Romanesque arches, and four finished facades. The interior wood finishes and details and metalwork are exquisite and it even boasts one of the very few water-powered, wrought iron elevators still in existence.

Through the window of the National Transit Building

We enjoyed meeting the artists in the historic National Trust Building who have working studios there, like our Riverwalk Center for the Arts in Milford on a larger scale - many who have relocated there from as far away as California. We talked with Swantje Elke who creates the most unique pieces of jewelry; Mary Morgan's eye for photography had the same sensitivity of Bob's in her travel photos and details; and we found Anissa Gage's portraits, drawings, and poetry in particular so very lovely. We did not get to meet Joann Wheeler, but she is the manager of the Studios. If you would like more information, call 814-678-2301.

The opportunities to live and work in this charming town, to be able to purchase a home for a fraction of what it might cost elsewhere and the community of artists helping each other is hard to resist. We aren't thinking of relocating ourselves. This would be too far away from Chris and Kyla and our beaches but I can't say it isn't tempting!

Butch Quinn Folk Art.
Butch Quinn was one of Oil City's own. Born and raised there, he lived his entire life in this town and is fondly remembered as a guy who would trade a piece of his art for a beer and many locals are proud to own one of his fanciful creations made from found objects. Mr. Quinn is represented in the permanent collection of the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City, the Smithsonian Institution Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., the Clarion University of Pennsylvania Museum and other institutions and private collections. We found his work delightful!

Bob really enjoyed the work of Bill Brady Jr at Graffitti Gallery. Graffiti Gallery presents the work of over 20 National Transit Studio artists. His sculptures are intriguing - both delicate and industrial, with a nod to Alexander Calder.

The very basic yet extremely functional "In/Out" sign at the entrance makes it easy to see which artists are in their studios working.

Alley and arch that connects the two National Transit buildings and a charming metal spiral staircase

Welcome signs let visitors know that they are entering a "non-censored" creative environment

There are more stories to tell about our recent adventure, but they will have to wait for another post!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Studio - Moving in!

The sign on my door - Visitors Welcome!

This week has marked the culmination of about a year's worth of planning and building and hoping and dreaming. When the Art League moved into the former Humes Hardware Building on N. Walnut Street in December last year we all celebrated. Scott and Gail Angelucci had been talking for some time about exanding Angelucci Artists Gallery with working artists' studios on the second floor, a place where artists could work individually but also interact with each other, sharing thoughts, ideas, inspiring and encouraging each other. A place where visitors could stop by, watch the artists at work, and buy art directly from the artists. Sort of a mini Torpedo Factory.

Riverwalk Center for the Arts - studios are upstairs

They approached Bob and I with this idea and offered us one of the studios. The rent was affordable, the idea of working right downtown, in a space where I could be messy and explore my art further, maybe take it to a whole other level was extremely appealing to say the least. I mean, don't get me wrong. I've got a pretty nice little studio space here in our condo, but I feel restricted and not able to throw paint with abandon. I want to work larger, to try other media - like oils and pastels maybe, to set up still lifes and explore new things. Plus this computer is a huge distraction - it is NOT coming to the studio! And, I feel like this opportunity was put in front of me at this time and I need to grab it. A page is turning to a whole new chapter of my life and I am once again putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where it takes me. Trusting that it will be good. I am VERY excited.

The move has begun!

So anyway, this is more of a gradual move in. Bob's been building me shelves and is working on a big work table (my old drawing table will suffice for the time being), he has put up a lighting system to highlight the paintings (and his photographs too) I'll be hanging. There will eventually (November? December?) be a Grand Opening and I'll keep you posted on that. Scott still has lots of finishing touches to make but it's going to be incredible! We're all so excited, the energy in downtown Milford is palpable.

When we were planning our trip to Italy I had this quote in front of me every day. It is fitting again:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)

Little Green Cabinet moves to the studio!

Bob putting together my drawing table

A peak inside

The hallway - The front half of the white wall on the left is mine

The window wall faces N. Walnut Street

Monday, October 11, 2010

I like this quote!

"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Watercolor Journaling Workshop

End of the day, end of the workshop - Proud Watercolor Journalists!

When Mispillion Art League approached me over a year ago now to teach watercolor journaling, I mustered up my courage and said "Sure! I can do that!" but inside I was pretty anxious about it. I had never taught before and while this is something I have done for years with great enjoyment I wasn't sure I could "teach" it to others. But I pulled out all the books I had used to teach myself and the notes I had taken when I attended my first watercolor journaling class at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix with Scottsdale Artist Heidi Rosner years ago. Since then I have filled many journal pages with my sketches and paintings - in pen an marker, before I moved up to watercolor (even before the Desert Botanical workshop). During the two years Bob and I lived in Italy, I art journaled and painted almost every day, with the finished journals to prove it.

So, getting back to now, since that first watercolor journaling class over a year ago I have given about half a dozen workshops, at Mispillion Art League and Millsboro Art League and discovered I really like doing this!

I'm trying to put together another workshop in November. If you think this is something you'd like to be a part of let me know.

Here are some of the photos of my last workshop - the last session at Abbott's Mill Nature Center

Students looking over my watercolor books

Journaling at Abbott's Mill

Gwen and Pearl carefully observing nature and recording it in their journals

The boardwalk path at Abbott's Mill Nature Center - one of my favorite spots

This class is so much fun! I try to gear the material to the students' levels of experience but mostly they are structured towards beginners and I give them some drawing exercises and color studies, design and composition and an introduction to watercolor. I do some demonstrating and give one-on-one instruction when I bring them outside to try it for themselves. I encourage them to draw, draw, draw and to take classes in drawing and painting.

These photos were taken by Pearl Burbage, one of my journaling students. For our 3rd class we gathered in her wonderful screened-in porch. The weather was grey and damp made better by Pearl's beautiful pots of hot tea and snacks. It was cozy and homey, with so many delightful things inside and out to journal about. A treat for the senses!

Teaching in Pearl's screened-in porch

Vaya sketching the garden outside

Sher and Debbi observing nature from the inside out

Harry and Sharon at the table

Gwen sketching the tea pot

The art of watercolor journaling and the great attraction I believe is the no-stress, no-worry, relaxing aspect of it. Watercolor journaling can be a very private, personal activity or you can go out with a friend(s). The other aspect, the writing aspect is something I believe people who have journaled (the written kind) enjoy too, because it incorporates both the written word, in their own hand and the images. A bit of left brain/right brain activity that is so rewarding. The materials are simple and light and it can be done absolutely anywhere, from your own kitchen table, backyard porch, a moving houseboat or a charming hilltown in Italy! It's just fun to do.

Examples of my own watercolor/ art journaling experiences:

Middle Rock Canyon, Lake Powell watercolor journal entry - literally on a moving houseboat!

Shirley Poppies - I painted these sitting on the brick walk in our front yard in Phoenix, AZ

Painting in the Underground Fortress (the Rocca Paolina) in Perugia, Umbria

Sage journal painting, painted at my kitchen table in Verona

Me, watercolor journaling in Italy - having the best time!

Trip to Yosemite, I painted every day and filled half a journal!

If you think this looks like something you'd like to try, contact your local art league and see if they offer workshops - or come here to Milford and sign up!