Monday, May 11, 2015

Livin’ in the Matrix, baby!

This past weekend was the River Arts District Studio Stroll, and Greg and Alex and I spent the whole weekend twiddling our thumbs. My guess is that because the weekend was a whole month earlier than it had been, and because there were so many other things going on (LEAF festival, UNCA graduation, Mother’s Day, and some sort of event downtown that had streets blocked off, although I never found out what it was) – turnout was abysmal.62009578_mtPpj90G

I started a new mosaic while I was there, based on a photo of a plum colored poppy – a scrumptious magenta/purple variety, but I was afraid I would have to make it a different color because that is such a difficult color to find in glass. I have one jar of these



(which are actually darker than they look in this photo) but I can’t make do with a single shade!


I was gifted with 3 boxes full of delicious stained glass by a photographer down the hall yesterday! They had been stored in his basement for god knows how long, so last night I soaked them in soapy water in the bathtub overnight. Today I cleaned and sorted by color, and voila! The Matrix brought me some purple and magenta and pinkyness:

And some big piles of other awesomeness too!

Can’t wait to get to work!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Getting ready for Studio Stroll May 9-10

Finally working on the pink dogwoods again, after a visit to New England to visit my son and daughter-in-law and to see the Boston Red Sox home opener. Our weather was fabulous for the trip and we walked all over Boston twice, and Portland, Maine once.
But now I want to hurry up and finish this! I need something on the walls in the studio for Studio Stroll. On our trip I took two pieces to The Kalled Gallery in Wolfeboro, NH, and about a month ago I took one to the Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast here in Asheville for their second floor gallery. That doesn’t leave much in the studio! Especially since Bellafiore is currently in Charlotte at Ciel Gallery until this weekend (BTW – I don’t think I mentioned here that it won Best of Show at their Back to the Garden national juried exhibit!). 
Studio Stroll is two and a half weeks away, and I have a lot of stuff going on outside the studio between now and then. This one is 12” x 12” so hopefully I can finish it this week, then get another little one done before Studio Stroll.
Why do I do this to myself?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Inspiration and nostalgia

We get to a certain age and we all experience a certain nostalgia – for all sorts of random things that remind us of good times had. Some of those things are places (the Indianapolis Museum of Art), some are sounds (the squeak of basketball shoes on a court), some are edible (hominy – don’t judge). I think it’s good to have so many things to look back upon with fondness. It means I’ve done at least a few things right.
One of the things I remember with fondness is the piano room I refurbished myself when we lived in Knightstown, IN. I taught piano lessons and needed a place where the chaos of my elementary and middle school age kids could be shut out.  I replaced the section of ceiling that collapsed, stripped and replaced wallpaper, replaced the wood trim, refinished the wood floors and installed french doors. My husband was the destructor – tearing out all the old stuff that needed to go, and I installed all the new stuff. When it was done, it was gorgeous. This was also the home where I built an organic herb nursery. I have photos but they’re buried in the storage unit, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. We only lived in that house for 3 years and you’d think I would have cried when we moved, but the community was so hateful, especially to my children, that I was actually relieved.
That was nearly 20 years ago. I had a little bit of wallpaper leftover, and I have carried it with me through 5 moves because I loved it so much. I have spent all that time wondering what I might do with it. I think now that I will use it as the inspiration for a mosaic.
the herb farm
As lovely as it is, I think it needs a bunny, don’t you?
I love the pink cosmos,


the bluebird, but especially, the sage blossoms:
Sage blossoms are really blue, but they almost appear lit from within. They are really magical.
So anyway, today I spread out the sheet of leftover wallpaper and remembered all the scents, sights and sounds of the herb gardens I have had over the last 30 years, and decided to embark on this.
Then I left the studio, stopping at Whole Foods to pick up butter on the way home.
And outside the front door they had precious, little sage plants. So of course I brought one home.
All is right with the world.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Still life with lemons

I have been sick for the last week, and soon I’ll have the energy to write a catch-up post to let you know what’s on tap for the near future, but in the meantime: it’s finally finished. This is probably not the final photo, but it’s the best I could manage today.
still life
Still Life with Lemons, © Lee Ann Petropoulos 2015
This piece was an experiment, and as with most experiments, aspects of it turned out better than I had hoped for, and others were disappointing. It was a good learning experience though.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Exhibit news and progress pic

I have been working on several things at once over the last couple of months, and while I’ve been working on my current mosaic, it’s been one of those “little bit here, little bit there” sort of things. The progress was so minimal each time that I didn’t bother posting pics because you’d probably think it looked the same as the last one.
Now I have a substantial bit done and I look up and behold – 3 weeks have gone by! Yikes. I haven’t been a slacker, exactly, I just have been focusing my efforts in too many directions at once.
At any rate, here is where I stand on the current piece:
I had no intention of using red for the background, but I put in several square inches of the planned greenish tan and hated it. So all of that had to be scraped off and I started over with red. I do like it, but I’m not sure how it will look once grouted. I always hold my breath til it’s done.
I would be tickled pink to have the whole thing finished, grout and all, by Saturday afternoon. Hm. Maybe.
And in other news:
PetropoulosBellafioreBellafiore has been accepted into the juried exhibit Back to the Garden at Ciel Gallery in Charlotte, NC. The exhibit runs from Friday April 3 through April 24. The opening reception is Friday, April 3 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm at Ciel Gallery, 128 E. Park Ave, Charlotte, NC. Would love to see you there – they always put on a fine production!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tips, techniques, and tools

Thank you to those of you who took my survey. Your suggestions will help me make the blog better. One of the suggestions I received was that you’d like me to include more in the way of tips and techniques. There are quite a number of posts that have some tips and whatnot, but I haven’t done much of that recently. I will go back in to the old posts and tag them with “tips” so you can more easily find what I do have on this blog. In the meantime – here’s a bit of info that you might find useful for drafting designs.
For those who might not be familiar with my process – I always have a general idea of what I want for background when I begin a piece, but I only draw out the foreground to begin with. I don’t draw the design for background on the substrate until I have finished the glass on the foreground, if at all.
The backstory: here is the photo I took of the still life composition I set up at my house (top photo) and two others that I printed as reference for what a chiaroscuro background should look like -
While the lighting in the top photo is much less dramatic than in the paintings below it, the light source is a single spotlight. The paintings have a similar, single source light, but it’s slightly off-center which enhances shadows – different angle, but close enough for government work, as my dad used to say.
The background will be done in my typical style with random colors, shapes and sizes of glass. I finished what I wanted to be recognizable as table/bottle/basket/etc. but as you can see, I already started to blend the table into the background. Next I will go to the center of the piece and begin the background at what will be the lightest point (which will really only be mid tones), and work my way outward.
I thought it would be a good idea to give myself some lines for reference – where to begin the shift from mid tones to darks to deepest tones. Because the light source is a round spot, I got out the compass and flexible ruler. I put the point of the compass about an inch below the top of the loaf of bread and drew a partial circle. This is for the separation from mid-tone to darker. Then I shaped the flexible ruler into a flattened arc and drew another line to mark where to shift to darkest tones. If you have never seen a flexible ruler before, let me tell you now that this is the BEST TOOL YOU NEVER HEARD OF.
You can bend these things every which way and they will hold their shape until you move them again. I laid the ruler out and just fidgeted with the arc until I liked the shape, then traced a line around the outside edge.
I decided the compass gave me too tight an arc, so I ended up erasing it and drawing a flatter arc with the flexible ruler, but I forgot to photograph the results, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I think I’ll turn the work upside down to work on the background. If you’ve read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards you know that you can force your brain to begin telling you what you really see, rather than what you think you should see. I HIGHLY recommend this book.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Wait…..what’s that?

This piece is really going slowly. I have done a whole lot of cutting and laying out without gluing down, rearranging, cutting some more, gluing, scraping off and starting all over again. I think I’m happy now with the bottle label, although in part that’s because I think it will pull together after it’s grouted.
jan31 copy

And because I was so focused on how the label looked, I never noticed the random piece of glass on top of the loaf of bread until my husband pointed it out. lol

This is par for the course with me. That’s one reason why photography is such a weak skill over here. I can’t tell you how many photos I have taken over the years and then later noticed something in the photo that I would have moved, had I seen it earlier:


Garden hose on the patio…


…ratty old dog toy on the floor, something on the table…


…dog hair tumbleweeds on the rug…


…garden spade on the steps, hose (again) in the background.

Well, no one does everything well, right? 
Yeah, Imma go with that.

Monday, January 26, 2015

An update, and a favor to ask

First of all, an update on the Still Life with Lemons that I’m (slowly) working on:
I am at a bit of an impasse on the bottle. I can’t quite determine how the label should be done. I have a couple of options – I can either attempt to cut incredibly thin pieces for the lettering, or I can leave grout spaces where the lettering is, coloring it later with india ink. I’m also not sure whether I want you to actually be able to read the label or not. In the photo I took when I set up the still life, you can actually read it.
But I kinda think I’d prefer that the letters just suggest the name of the winemaker. Not sure exactly how I’d do that anyway, though.
And now for the favor….
Things change so very quickly in the virtual world, it’s a little hard to keep up with it unless you’re in the tech industry. I think it’s time for me to reevaluate the ways I’m trying to reach people to let them know what’s new and newsworthy in the studio. I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut. So if you would PLEASE PLEASE take just a couple of moments to fill out a survey for me I’d be ever so grateful! I promise it won’t take long and doesn’t ask any difficult questions. And of course it’s anonymous, so you can give me hell if you want to. Winking smile
Thank you in advance.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A little spring fever, maybe?

OK, so the basket did need some adjustment. I scraped off some of the upper right side and reworked it. Now I’m much happier. However, my photography skills still suck. Slightly blurry photo, but it’s all I managed today, so take it or leave it.
Moving on to the loaf of bread next, and already stressing out over the background. I need to let it go until I get there, because I have plenty of other challenges ahead of me on this one.
I have never let myself work on more than one mosaic at a time, partly because I was afraid pieces would languish and never actually get finished, and partly because of the amount of space the glass I’m using takes up on the table. I take that back – I have two unfinished mosaics in the studio, but they are both more or less ‘abandoned’ for the time being. Unless I get an amazing bolt-of-lightning-style inspiration on how to move forward with them, I don’t like them well enough to finish. But I think I’m going to start another and have something to work on when I feel overwhelmed by the still life (above).Ode on a Dogwood
You may have seen the Facebook thing making the rounds – nominating artists to post pictures of their work for 5 days, and they then nominate others. I was nominated by Dee Ruff and today’s share was my Ode on a Dogwood from several years ago. I miss that piece. I didn’t have a very good camera back then, and the colors came out a little wonky – it’s actually prettier in person than in that photo. Anyway, I believe I’ll do another dogwood mosaic, this time of pink dogwoods.
Many years ago (none of your business how many!) I used to go to the American Quilter’s Society annual convention in Paducah, KY with my grandmother. They don’t have it there anymore, which is a shame, because it coincided with their annual Dogwood Festival. The entire city is full of dogwoods of every color, and they even light them up at night – it looks like something out of a fairy tale! The pink ones were my favorites, because at the time, there were few (or none) near my home in central Indiana. Lots of white ones, but the pinks were really rare.
So after fixing my issues with the still life, the remainder of today was spent sketching a composition for the dogwood blossoms and choosing colors, some of which I’ll have to order.
No pics for you! You must have been bad this week.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Who knew it’d be so hard?

Ugh. It just gets harder with each passing year, doesn’t it? Take a little time off at my age, and your body says “Whoo hoo!!! Retirement! Nap time……wait, what? Back to work?!? *#&$&%”
That, in itself, I can deal with. This nasty chest cold, not so much. Today was supposed to be the day I got back in the studio and got my groove back. Instead I have taken two naps.
However, I never did show you the current progress on the still life I’m working on. I was really annoyed with myself for not finishing the grapes before the holidays (I was so freakin’ close!) but why get all bent out of shape over a silly arbitrary deadline, anyway, right?
It annoys the crap out of me that I couldn’t see the crookedness of the basket when there was nothing else on there yet – in fact, looking back at an old pic, I still don’t see it (maybe just a touch). I don’t know if I took the photo from an odd angle, or if there are some adjustments to be made. (I do know that I drew the basket rim lopsided and will fix that when I put the glass on it.)
Now if I could just stop coughing long enough to take a shower without drowning….


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