Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gizmo ~ 1995-2013

Yesterday I lost my last kitty, Gizmo to old age and illness and the house feels so strange now. No little furry 'people' to welcome me home and cuddle with me at night. I'm cat-less after almost 20 years and it's going to take me some time to get used to this new situation. I've only begun to grieve and I know it hasn't fully sunk in yet. I'm still stepping over food and water dishes that are no longer there and looking down when I'm cooking to make sure I don't step on the tails of little 'beggars' looking for a snack.

Gizmo was the youngest and the last to join my feline family. When I first saw her she was all huge eyes and big ears peering out of a little black ball of frizzy fur. We named her Gizmo after the Mowgli in the movie Gremlins because she looked so much like that character. She was shy, skittish, very sweet and that girl was quick on her feet! None of the other cats stood a chance of catching her if she didn't want to be caught. My Raven wasn't too happy about Gizmo coming to live with us but the two girls struck an uneasy peace over the years. Digby was more accepting and Gizmo adored him. When they were about a year old the grizzled old tomcat that lived several doors down came lurking and had cornered Digby on my porch, growling with mayhem on his mind. I heard the commotion and went to see what was happening. Digby was terrified and I wasn't sure quite what to do. Suddenly I saw a little black blur come from the back of the porch and Gizmo landed squarely on the old tomcat's back. The tomcat was as surprised as I was and he took off, squeezing through the porch railings and getting stuck in the process. That old tomcat left a lot of fur behind by the time he freed himself but he never came near my yard again...ever. Digby was left unscathed and Gizmo was the hero of the day. It was doubly surprising because Gizmo was normally so timid and I think she even surprised herself! I'm really gonna miss that little girl.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Mighty Mac ~ sketch

The sketch
I'm not sure how much detail I will include
 in the final painting. Better to have more detail
available than I will need than not enough. I can
edit easier than add. Notice I lowered the horizon
line in the background in the lower left.
Cecile Graven made that suggestion & I think it works. 
This is the altered image enlarged to 15" x 23".
 Notice the dark area in the upper right(storm clouds?)
 I love the lens flare in the upper left and the brilliant
patches of light which creates a stark contrast to the
silhouette of the tower.

I've been monkeying around with this since my last post. I decided to enlarge the altered image and use that for my drawing. It didn't yield a lot of visual info regarding many details so I had to wing those myself. The enlarged drawing is approx. 15" x 23" but I'd like to take it up to 22" x 33". I sent an email to Framing4Artists requesting a quote on a custom Masonite panel with a cradle depth of 1 1/2" and the price was reasonable considering the cost of matting and framing a piece that size if done on paper. I've never worked on panel before so this would be a new experience for me. It will have to be primed with painters gesso and sanded. Not sure if that's doable for a winter project because I don't have a basement or other appropriate workspace. For now I plan to practice on w/c paper at the current size to get ideas for the final painting on panel.

Btw, one thing the enlarged altered image did provide was an idea for the background. When it printed out the sky in the upper right corner looked like dark storm clouds rolling in from the east and looking (appropriately) ominous. I think I'll also keep the lens flare on the left side of the tower. I like that effect!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

My Mighty Mac

After cropping the greyscaled image I put it into GIMP photo editor
 and played with the perspective to create
 an exaggerated towering effect.
It makes me kind of dizzy looking at this image
 so I think I'm on the right track.
Here I've greyscaled the bridge and cropped the lower portion
The original image

I'm referring to the Mackinac Bridge located exactly 50 miles north of my home. When I was just a kid I loved it when my family traveled across this bridge. With my Dad at the wheel of our '47' Chevy, I would plant myself in the back window looking upward and watch with glee as we passed beneath the huge towers. As an adult this mighty bridge has become mighty scary to me. I'm not sure when this shift occurred. Maybe it was the first time I was allowed to be at the wheel when we crossed. Wind is a huge issue on this bridge and if you're going even a tiny bit too fast you will feel the awful sensation of hydroplaning. I remember feeling like the car wasn't responding the way it should and my instincts told me to speed up and get off the bridge as fast as possible which is absolutely the wrong reaction to the situation. And did I mention, I'm afraid of heights, too? It's taken me years to conquer a 6' ladder and now I'm 199' above a huge body of water with a car that feels like it could careen out of control at any moment. Yea, I think that's when my love affair with the Mighty Mac ended. I'm not alone in my fear either. According to this blogger it's listed as one of the 10 scariest bridges in the world.

To be fair, it's an amazingly beautiful bridge and not responsible for my phobias but my intention is to project my own visceral reactions via a painting of the Mighty Mac. I have one other phobia that I plan to draw upon to create that sense of loss of equilibrium/panic. I also have megalophobia. It's an irrational fear of large objects and, in my case it's a fear of certain gargantuan manmade structures. It only rears it's head when one or more of my other fears is also in play, ie. fear of heights. Julie Christiansen, a wonderful photographer, was kind enough to give me permission to use a few of her bridge photos to use as reference. This will be an ongoing work in progress. By that I mean on again, off again over the coming winter. The painting must be large to convey the emotions and sensations I hope to project.