Monday, October 3, 2011

Autumn Bounty, in the Studio

The weather is extraordinary...the warmest beginning of October here in a hundred years. We're in the eighties, the sky is crystal blue, the windows flung open and the sunny days harmonize with the golden leaves which flutter to the ground all around us as we stroll through the forest.

This is my favorite time of year. I glory in the generosity of nature. I can't walk fast as I must stop every few moments to gather up some forest gifts that lie about me on the pathway.

I particularly like large acorns, with their charming hats. When I poured them out on my table the other day I found two small worms, fat and white wiggling among them.

At David's house in Grand Champ, where we helped him for a morning clearing one of his overgrown fields, I gathered a basket of chestnuts for roasting and some pine cones for decorating.

He had numerous apple trees and in a matter of moments we had several large crates full.

I also found a hydrangea whose flowers had already begun to dry on the bush. I gathered them up and hung them in our furnace room, next to some lavenders that have been drying there for a month or so.

This time of year one could easily sustain one's self on David's land.


David also gave me a large branch from his kiwi tree. I found the leaves very charming and thought they would make very nice prints. My blogging friend, Mariann Ellis is printing leaves in her studio in Spain. Her system is a bit different than mine.

I roll or paint water color on the leaves and then place them on a piece of moistened and stretch watercolor paper. I splash a little extra color around and then cover them with weights, allowing them to sit for a few hours before releasing them.

I like the way the colors reveal the structure of the veins.

They make nice cards, wall hangings, decorative paper for bookmaking or whatever. Fall always includes a little leaf printing.


My friend Mary, who was here last month brought me a huge stack of beautiful handmade paper from another friend back home. Leroy is an art professor at San Jose State University and he has been teaching a course on paper-making for years. With the stack was a wonderful note that proclaimed: "make more art with this."

Always liking to follow directions from the people I trust and love, I began to imagine playing with some of the brighter bits. I had some little plywood squares that I painted with various colors and chose a decorative paper to mount on each one.

This seemed like a nice background from which to make some collages.

But I got sidetracked by two of the marbleized papers. I kept seeing images in them. In the orange one it was primarily little people.

For the green one it was birds, mostly ducks.

For the blue one I decided to follow the original plan, which was to cut out some leaves from air-drying clay,

paint and mount them on the board.

I haven't been able to glue anything over the pink one yet, as I like it rather a lot the way it is. I plan to glue some nice white paper on the back so that they can be used as greeting cards.


I have had a Martha Stewart book entitled Handmade Christmas, for so long that the pages have fallen out. In it she has a project I've always thought adorable. Making a box from an acorn. Her photo of the results is on the left. Mine, after following her very brief instructions, is on the right. I was so pleased with the results, until the next day. You notice that in both the photos the hollowed out acorn is separated from its little top, where a nice bit of cork has been securely glued. Martha neglects to mention that the shell bit shrinks a lot once it is dried and the two no longer fit one another. Martha! Really.


Another wonderful surprise and spur to action came in the form of a delivery from far off Virginia. My blogger friend Janet sent me a prize from her fabric give-away contest. She has a wonderful home decorating blog called The Empty Nest, which I've been following for several years. She's always cooking up something interesting over there and often has fabulous contests. Last winter I won a handmade scarf!


I found a sketch book this week which had some dream imagery that I  recorded long ago. This is one that has always stayed with me. I intend to develop it into a hard ground etching. It's entitled At the Pool Between Worlds. This is my sketch.

I have developed an illustration website called mymusetta.


Nights have also been inspirational this week. Picture us at our apartment window, wide open, with our telescope aimed up at Jupiter. The night sky is incredibly these clear days. Even though we are in a village, there is so little light pollution here that we can see the planets and constellations in all their blazing glory, something impossible at our home in California. With our relatively inexpensive telescope we can see Jupiter's stripes and watch its various moons rotate around the planet. Each evening they are in a completely different position.

The sun is low enough in the sky now too to create those moments, mostly in the morning, when the sun shines through the windows and casts a golden glow on things, picking out particular objects to illuminate. It's a visual feast; I have to keep my camera near at hand.

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