Thursday, May 26, 2011

snip, slice, cut, peal, repeat.

This week has been so much fun since my workshop at the Pyramid Atlantic Studios in paper cut stencil making also called a Scherenschnitte which is very particular to they type of art craft making. I know it looks hard to say but "sharon sh-knit-ta" is a phonetic approximation of how it sounds with my American English... Anyway how ever you pronounce it the point is it is fun.

diamonds, spades, clubs and heart 3x22" black paper

Today after some shopping I spent the afternoon enduring this little heat wave that blew into DC sitting by the AC drawing then cutting a third scherenschnitte motif. I was thinking about my brother in law Franz Poti who arranged for all the family ladies to meet him and my sister Jenny, in Las Vegas for the beginning of a week long trip to Utah time shares. He loves to gamble and this past weekend was his 50th Birthday so he got to gamble and have fun in Las Vegas. Cards came to mind so I offer this little design with him and Bridge mistress Mildred Cunningham in mind.

 Keith took my photo while I was cutting the final few bits out of my first scherenschnitte last Friday evening after the workshop. I love seeing how "into it" I was I didn't even notice I was getting my portrait made.  Notice, I forgot to take off my orange name tag? Today that ice cold glass of water looks so delicious. Thanks for catching me shinning so brightly, Keith.
Frederick cutting his first scherenschnitte 5-20-2011
I did a second paper cut this week which is more ambitious than my first heart design. I was thinking about my neighbor's two robins nesting in his front and back yard. Dan and Peter were posting daily photos on face book as the little blue eggs appeared, then hatched and eventually flew away. So this one is dedicated to all the bird lovers who love to watch these creatures raise their young in our gardens. I am still waiting on the house wren to settle into one of our bird houses and make some babies!
 chicks in a tree, worms are on the way

The last thing I have to offer today is a bit of red hot orange! My native Turk's cap species lilies began to bloom and I couldn't resist drawing them this morning while in the garden for my daily sketch. The fastest way to share the sketch and the flowers is with a couple photos of them together so watch for more images when I get this scanned. 
watercolor and pen sketch of lily in our garden

orange Turk's cap lilies

Saturday, May 21, 2011

membership's perks

 my paper cut scherenschnitte design with shadows
This past evening I spent a couple hours at Pyramid Atlantic Studios making, what in German is called, a scherenschnitte with black paper, scissors and a sharp Exacto knife on a cutting mat. Silhouette is something I have been fascinated by for many years and in college I did some of my work by tracing the shadows from my hanging plants cast on my small bedroom wall from the two or three street lights that came in the window. I kept coming back to shadows and the flat design that reads so easily as a portrait or a story motif in my art works. The woodcuts I have done are a sort of silhouette design with lots of highlight details. So when the members of Pyramid Atlantic Studios offered a free members workshop in German scherenschnitte on Friday night I jumped at the chance to give it a try. This art is associated with the early German immigrants who settled mostly in Pennsylvania who brought it with them from their homelands. We see it as "Pennsylvania Deutsch" style in folk art of the 17-19th centuries early American.
I haven't been doing much print making this year but this and the paper bead workshop offered a few months ago were great reminders that there are so many things to do at the Pyramid Atlantic studios with paper and prints. It was a great fun evening with about 15 other members of various degrees of drawing skills. We had a creative director Gretchen Schermerhorn and her young and lovely German intern Elena Djossou to lead us along and give inspiration and show us the how it's done. I worked from an old design, drawing my own version and then carefully cutting it out folded in half to get the mirror effect on my little heart with birds and bunnies. Now I want to try something more original. Crows in a tree perhaps? Thanks to my membership at Pyramid I have new inspiration....
 with special effects from iPhotobooth

paper cut design flat black and white. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

roses & new birds

The past two weeks I have, by chance, noticed some new birds in the neighborhood.
Lucky to have my camera to snap a photo and bring them in to look up in the bird guide. Yesterday while on my daily walk I noticed was a pair of unusually colorful birds. They flitting here and there among the yellow flag iris, yellow false indigo and roses at the Brookland Monastery. I went up there to exercise and look to see if my favorite roses were in bloom and this is some of what I saw.

Yellow False Indigo(Baptisia sphaerocarpa)

Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag iris)

adult male Baltimore Oriole sits in a white cedar
Besides the great roses that bird was a real surprise. I can 't ever recall seeing the famous Baltimore Oriole any where and here I saw two a pair, one male and one female and I chased them around the garden for a few minutes trying to photograph them. I got one decent shot once the male took a seat in the tree and sang a little. It was a high point of my week. 
Not long ago I also found an Eastern King bird in my own garden who only passed through and has not reappeared, I assume it was on it's way home to some other place from it's winter's migration home. 
eastern king bird in the choke cherry tree
the eastern king bird is on the fence below the bird house waiting on the dove to leave room in the bird bath for a passing visitor
The tiny House Wren returned to our yard and seems to like that new bird house on the shepherd's hook I installed this year. This weekend he filled it up with twigs. I recently read that the males build as many as 12 nesting sites and the female chooses the one she likes. It is interesting to know this now because in past years he put twigs in several gourds and bird houses I hung in our trees and then I saw the female come visit and choose one before I knew the whole story. I wondered  why he was building so many nests. Now we know! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

natives in the garden

mourning dove and visiting king bird waiting for a drink 

"eastern king bird" high in our choke cherry tree

red columbine Aquilegia candadensis 

wide shot of the columbines

native Sedum ternatum white flowers 

white beard tongue, penstemon 

buttercups in the lawn

silhouette of song sparrow singing 
This week I have been enjoying the garden. The cold is gone and the warmer days are making some mornings perfect for sitting in the garden with coffee and paper. I noticed a song sparrow, new to our garden but known in the neighborhood, and I took the chance to record it's wonderful song in a short video and tried to capture his portrait but he was shy and kept it's distance. Then today I was watching out the back porch window and saw another new bird in our garden trying to get to the bird bath for a drink. Later I confirmed my suspicion that it was a Eastern king bird who has a strange song like electric fence  but very distinct markings and a black crest. The king bird didn't stick around very long but I was glad my picture captured it's visit here to share.
We went to two plant sales this past weekend and collected lots of new native flowering plants. Most are not in flower right now but a couple were so I have posted their photos.
We learned that beard tongue also called penstemon is a native that was cultivated more extensively in European gardens. On Wiki I read that in some of the 19th century seed catalogs as many as 500 varieties were available! Ours is a simple white flower with a reddish green leaf and stem.
One of our favorite woodland columbines came back this year. I collected seeds from a large plant in a sidewalk tree box near Douglas Kingsbury's house when I was visiting for my portrait sittings. I deposited them in our shady herb bed and was delighted when they sprouted new plants that summer that bloomed the following spring. Looking closely at plants pays off with free flowers if you arrive at the right time.
Finally I wanted to show the local buttercups that grow in our neighborhood. Some of the yards are full of them before the mowers come along and decapitate them. It takes me back to my childhood to see them remembering them in Springfield Va. yards of the 1960's There was a game we played that if you picked a buttercup and held it under a chin if their chin shined yellow they are in love. Sunny days worked best to reflect that bright yellow cup on the chin.
Wikipedia and USDA information Links:
Eastern King Bird 
Song Sparrow
Beard Tongue or Penstemon 
Sedum Ternatum
Red columbine