Friday, July 21, 2017

Finding Inspiration

Lovely Lady - Sculptural Plaque by Anne Rita Taylor

I visit the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston for inspiration. They have a treasure trove of Impressionist art to rival museums in Paris.

The Sculpture Garden is very welcoming.  You can sit, bring your lunch or coffee & visit with friends. It is a lovely area with a few shade trees. Below is the walkway from the auxiliary parking.

I was surprised to learn - not everyone gets inspiration at museums - but that is where I fill up my well for my future creations. 
Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was the architect for the Sculpture Garden which opened in 1986.

My favorite sculpture in the garden is actually a four part sculpture by Henri Matisse (1869-1954). A woman’s back is represented in a classical pose showing the history of art called Backs I - IV.  Below is one of my efforts at sculpting a back in clay:

When I was sculpting in clay in the 1980’s I would take the day off on my birthday & spend the whole day visiting the museum. See more about my sculpting here:
I was in paradise just roaming around, visiting the exhibits, truly inspirational! 

I can easily become preoccupied all day looking at Adam by Émile-Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), sculpted in 1889. What a beautiful human form! 

Although my favorite sculptor is Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).

When I was in Paris I visited The Rodin Museum which was a dream come true. 

Houston’s museum has his headless Walking Man sculpted in 1889.

Another Rodin in the Sculpture Garden, Spirit of Eternal Repose, was  modeled in 1899 & cast in bronze in 1982. 

You can see Matisse’s four-part sculpture in the background.

Leave a comment and let me know - Where do you get your inspiration?
©Anne Rita Taylor 2017

Friday, July 7, 2017

My Woodcut

Several years ago I took a wood cutting class where I did not learn anything. I made this woodcut prior to the class as I tried out my new cutting tools. It is my only woodcut!

For the last two years I’ve been a member of the Rubber Amateur Press Society and we have a quarterly swap of hand-stamped images. Click here for my October blog:
Since I had not carved anything recently and the due date of April 30th was approaching, I thought of my wood carving. 

I could have used the Press at The Printing Museum in Houston, but they are renovating due to a fire last May. How would I print? I tried printing using my Arnold Grummer Paper Press and it worked OK.

I carefully lined up the paper and placed the inked wood as close to the middle as possible and lowered the press.

I used water based ink and rolled it on a piece of copper side-taped glass before rolling the ink on the woodcut. My first one came out great, pictured up top.

The third time came out too light, so I added ink and rolled again, great images for 3 of them, so I added more ink - then it came out too dark.

It took me 24 prints to have 15 OK prints to swap. I'm experimenting with the lighter ones to add some color. I tried coloring in the circle to have the Sun but I like the black & white Moon effect better.

I bought the Wood Carving tools at Walmart plus I already had the extra V-shaped cutting tool in my carving supplies. The piece of wood is from Hobby Lobby.

All in all, I think they came out OK. Although I plan to do more experimenting. Any thoughts from any of my blog readers is appreciated.
©Anne Rita Taylor 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Teaching Book Arts

I have been teaching at the Houston Book Arts Guild since 2008 when I taught Zine-making at a meeting. Fun to share!

Thanks! to Marjorie Silverstein for taking these photos of my cover gluing demonstration
HBAG was founded December 2005 by then Museum Curator, Todd Samuelson, at The Printing Museum in Houston. We had learning experiences at each monthly meeting. We now meet from September through June on the first Thursday of the month at 6:00 pm.

I enjoy putting together all the materials, receiving the RSVPs, and volunteering to teach and share my knowledge. Sometimes there is no fee for supplies and other times the fee is $5 to $10 for a kit. 

Storybook Theatre books I learned & taught from Alisa Golden's book: Making Handmade Books
I taught Halloween Star Books in 2009, Accordion Variations in 2010, twice in 2013: Storybook Theater in February & Calligraphy - Decorated Capitals in September, team-taught with Cori Austin & JF Gold: Altered Books in 2014. My favorite: I taught Carving Rubber Stamps in 2011 & 2016.

At the June 1st meeting participants learned the Guest / Photo Album for a $7 fee. The album kits, by Arnold Grummer, sell for $9 each or a dozen at $7 each.

I put together packets, providing the glue and asked the 12 students to bring scissors, bone folders and a glue brush. I tried to find metal spacer bars - now sold in sets by Volcano Arts. I wanted each student to have their own, so I cut 20 pieces of Davey board: 12 inches by a quarter inch.

Herb Craft with his completed Photo Album

Everyone had a good time making their albums! I had fun too - spending time with my book arts tribe.

Also at the HBAG meeting there was a changing of the guard with Lee Steiner - who has been a fabulous leader - passing her Presidential tiara to Janet Reynolds! I'm looking forward to more enriching learning experiences. Field trip anyone!?!
©Anne Rita Taylor 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017

Paris Shopping for Yarn

Baby blanket I crocheted with my French yarn

While in Paris go to the Passage du Grand Cerf and find a shop called Lil Weasel if you want to buy yarn - made in France of course. Going from the 1st District (or Arrondissement) near The Louvre, the Passage is about a half hour walk to the 2nd District.

The Passage du Grand Nerf was created in 1825, among the first shopping malls. Businesses are on the ground floor, storage areas on the second, and apartments are located on the third floor, very pretty & compact.

Close-up of my crochet stitches
Mostly yarn and buttons are sold at Lil Weasel. Other shops: eyeglasses, antiques, furniture, clothing, plus a cafe. The Passage has grown in popularity - now boasts 25 shops. 
I found pretty yarn and gave my business to the friendly French woman who also spoke English. We had a lovely time chatting. I also bought these Eiffel Tower buttons and plan to use them on a sweater.

These are about the size of an American quarter

Find Lil Weasel on Facebook here:

The interior of the mall is the width of the street with a glass roof.

I bought several skeins - though it seems as if there is too much yarn to possibly choose.

Buy a tote bag in the mall - who doesn't need another bag when you are traveling?

You can spend all day in The Passage! Then walk back to the 1st District and go to the Air France office to get your Boarding Pass printed the day before your flight. They are very friendly. 
Bon Voyage!
©Anne Rita Taylor 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Calligraphy at The Marriott

Every two years the Houston Calligraphy Guild reserves classrooms in the Marriott Westchase offering discount rates for over-nighters. I last attended in 2011 when I taught Zine-Making - see my prior blogs about Zines:
I attended the HCG Retreat last weekend & really enjoyed myself.

There were 9 classes (2 & 1/2 hours each) to choose from. Forty HCG members each picked 3 classes. Saturday morning I chose Journal Contour Drawing with Shirl Riccetti: 
Shirl exhibits her drawings & watercolor art at the Archway Gallery in Houston.

My quick portrait of Shirl Riccetti - left / Lobby sketching - right

Shirl liked timed drawings of 2 and 3 minutes! First we drew a chair copying from an upside down drawing from Van Gogh - I liked that! We practiced outlining and filling in while copying from magazine photos. 

I loved using one of my Paris photos for a timed journaling exercise. Finishing up, we actually went out to the lobby & sketched - fun & daring.

My Saturday afternoon class was Pointed Pen Uncials taught by Cindy Haller, a talented local calligrapher for hire: 

The class was modeled after Michael Kecseg who was bringing this historical letterform into the 20th century. 

Cindy’s class would have been better for me if my bottled ink had not exploded in my art supply bag - ugh! Cindy suggested I use a pencil first and go over it with a monoline tool (no thicks or thins). I will practice these letterforms since done correctly, they are very pretty.

On Sunday morning I took J.B. Banzon’s class, another talented local calligrapher. This was his first time teaching and he was excellent! Snowflake Flourishing was lots of fun with attention to detail. How long ago had I used this compass!?!

On Friday evening we dined at a lovely French restaurant, La Madeleine. During the weekend the Marriott provided two breakfast buffets with yummy crispy bacon, and a fine lunch and dinner on Saturday. The cookies that afternoon were a treat! Plus I actually had two good nights of sleep. 

Saturday night there was a raffle for calligraphy prints from a legacy left by Helen Shinpaugh, a most beloved HCG member. I was lucky enough to win the print above by Mark Van Stone.

All in all it was a fun weekend of making art and being with my calligraphy tribe.
©Anne Rita Taylor 2017

Friday, May 5, 2017

Africa Travels with Beads

I bought lovely beads when I was in North Africa - called Trade Beads. I used one for this necklace. I visited Casablanca & Marrakesh which I found other-worldly. 

This is my photo of the entrance to the souks, the Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakesh. The buses arrive here too.

The Souks - the open-air marketplaces - are like a continuous craft fair. Having a local guide is necessary in the maze of shops. The guides meet the buses, arriving from Casablanca to Marrakesh. My guide told me to call him Mohammed Charlie Brown.

Besides beads, various kinds of clothing, shawls, household goods, rugs, slippers, and handbags are bargained for and sold. Many of the slippers and handbags are made by the nomadic Bedouin tribes that roam the Sahara desert.

I bought this handbag in Marrakesh - made from goatskin by a Bedouin tribe member.
I created this blog a year and a half ago (this is my 62nd blog) and I love traveling, so I was recently involved with editing a friend's travel web site.
My friends use this site for flights, hotels, car rentals and cruises and everything goes smoothly. They are opening the site to the rest of the world.

A postcard I bought in Marrakesh shows a display called “Fantasia” usually combined with dinner for the tourists.

I’ll continue blogging about art and crafts. And I'm planning more travels combined with crafting. Please let me know if you have any thoughts to share in the Comments section.
©Anne Rita Taylor 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

Focus on Book Arts

I attended the wonderful Focus on Book Arts conference held near Portland, Oregon in 2005. It's held during odd-numbered years - this year June 20th to 25th.

I made four books in four days! Jana Pullman taught the Nag Hammadi book - click here:
And the 16th Century Limp Paper Binding book - click here:

Doris Arndt taught The Artistic Exploration Journal - I absolutely loved this and made several more of these too.

We cut into the cover board - dragon fly on mine - before gluing the Black Pearl paper (crumpled after we rubbed on colors). We also worked on a few journal pages.

Doris Arndt also taught The Woven Metal Book. Had to be very careful working with metal pieces. Drafting tape was used on the back to hold the metal pieces together.

We folded pockets to hold pretty book marks we made. The Woven Metal Book was a challenge - this is the only one I ever made! Plus, we wrapped the ribbon around skewers we colored with ink.

Jana Pullman is teaching at FOBA this June. Click here:

I also sewed the style of the Exploration Journal when I entered & was a finalist for the Southern Methodist University book competition in 2006 for. Click here:

My husband, Kevin Taylor, collaborated with me for the SMU competition. He had taken a two day Marbling class taught at FOBA by Galen Berry & he made this lovely marbled paper I used for end sheets.

At the Focus on Book Arts we did so much each day. It was truly a memorably experience & I recommend going if you have the time, money and desire to learn. Have you taken any interesting classes?
©Anne Rita Taylor 2017