Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Drawing Ideas: Thoughts from the park

I sat, drawing, at a picnic table in the park this evening.  It was so beautiful!  Fresh air.  Bright blue skies.  The sun was shining.  It was a warm 26C.  The water fountains splashed and danced about in the large lake-like pond and the birds flew overhead singing and calling to one another. 

Found Feathers:  drawing by Margaret Braun
What a difference a few days make.

The smoke from hundreds of forest fires burning in British Columbia, setting a record since 1998, engulfed Alberta for four days.  We struggled in a thick, hazy atmosphere until the smoke cleared. 

While sitting and observing my surroundings, it was a precious moment in time.  I felt very grateful and appreciative of our good fortune having a beautiful summer day return once again.

After I finished drawing, I continued with my list of ideas.

70. Keyhole:  what would you see through a keyhole?
71. A figure in motion.
72. Contour line drawings of figures.
73. Contour line drawings of objects.
74. Several studies of eyes, nose and mouth only.
75. Focus on patterns.
76. Metallic object and everything you see in it.
77. Object of interest from 3 different angles/views.
78. Mechanical object.
79. Insides of a mechanical object.
80. A parade.
81. Crowded elevator with people wearing costumes.
82. Construction site.
83. View from an insects perspective.
Sole-searching:  ink drawing by Margaret Braun
84. View under a magnifying glass including the magnifying glass.
85. Scientist.
86. Self portrait with different items (flowers, door knobs, cutlery, etc.) instead of hair.
87. Write a large number or letter in the middle of a page and turn it into something (object, person, animal).
88. Use letters and/or numbers to draw your image.
89. Make a drawing.  Fold and cut (like a snowflake).  Open and glue on to another background.

What have you observed?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Drawing: More Ideas

Drawing of a jug I made   Ink Drawing & Photo: M. Braun

Haven't seen Raymond since he returned from his month-long vacation.  Will see him when we get together for figure drawing.

A number of my artist friends and I have been involved in figure drawing for over ten years.  We meet at Harcourt's Art Education Room.  The models are amazing!  So are my artist friends!  I enjoy and treasure the time we spend together -- the ease, the laughter and the peace I feel when I am with them. 

In the meantime, I will continue my list.  Please feel free to contribute your suggestions.

35. Puppets.
36. Dragonfly.
37. Seashells.
38. Earrings.
39. Imaginary Alphabet.
40. Birthday wish list.
41. The sky.
42. Bubbles.
43. Reflections in the mirror.
44. Favourite animal with human face.
45. Favourite human with animal face.
46. Patterned cloth.
47. Lunch.
48. The Zoo.
49. What is in the rear-view mirror in the car.
50. Elephants.
51. Old truck.
52. Flowers in the park.
53. Eyes.
54. People in a coffee shop.
55. Items on a table.
56. Cute little shop.
57. An historical building.
58. Sculpture.
59. Objects through a microscope.
60. Photocopy an existing drawing, cut it up, paste to create a new work.
61. Junk food with wrapper.
62. A foot.
63. Something not pretty.
64. Part of any object.
65. Unlikely objects together.
66. Running shoes.
67. Velma's horse.
68. Tools.
69. Hands holding something.

Let me know what you have been drawing lately.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drawing List

More Feathers that I found in the Park     Ink Drawings & Photo:  M. Braun

I got stuck in the elevator today.

It gave me a chance to think about what I could draw tonight.  Sometimes I just don’t know.  Does that ever happen to you?

So I started making a drawing list. 

1. Ratty old feathers.
2. Drawing manikin.
3. A collection of my friends' hands.
4. Old cars.
5. Rollerderby girls.
6. Rollerblade boot.
7. Lunch box.
8. A favourite bridge.
9. Sketching supplies.
10. Houseplant.
11. Go to the park and sketch a different tree with each visit.
12. Holiday photos.
13. Make a small collage then draw the collage.
14. Something I made.
15. Several neck ties on a two-page spread with drawings on the ties.
16. Front of a stationery train.
17. Trumpet.
18. New pair of shoes.
19. Old pair of shoes.
20. Dancing shoes.
21. Canada goose.
22. Digger (that's what my grandson calls it).
23. Giraffe.
24. Street performers.
25. Latin dancers.
26. Glassware.
27. Leaves.
28. Design a new CD cover.
29. A favourite chair.
30. Interesting chair.
31. Antique chair.
32. Hair.
33. Bicycle.
34. A self-portrait and friends as playing cards: queen, king, jack.

Darn, I'm being rescued.  I'll continue this later.  Do you have any suggestions you would like to add to this list?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sketchbook Drawing

Feathers I Found in the Park       Ink Drawings & Photo by Margaret Braun

I made a bet with my friend, Raymond.  The bet?  Who will finish their sketchbook first!  This friendly “competition” has gone on for a few years and is designed to encourage the two of us to draw on a regular basis.  The “loser” takes the “winner” out to dinner at the restaurant of her choice (LOL!).

We trade our sketchbooks during the meal and discuss the drawings.  It really is the sweet spot of this whole exercise.  A year-long retrospective is revealed as we journey back into our memories and unfold each page.  We discuss what we see in one another’s drawings, the direction this evolution is taking us and encourage one another in areas we may not have recognized.  Then the bet begins again.

I like looking at other artists’ sketchbooks.  I first met Dan Price, over ten years ago, through his books.  They are little diaries of a hobo’s life.  I love his whimsical line and the short stories he narrates which are woven throughout the images.  I live vicariously through his experiences.

Through Dan, I met Danny Gregory who encourages people to draw while working through his own personal journey.  Danny has created world-wide enthusiasm for drawing causing people to pick up their pencils once again.

Roz is a friend of Danny’s and she has an interesting way of laying out the pages of her sketchbook.  She creates a multitude of challenges for herself and can describe the strengths and weaknesses of almost every tool and product an artist might use.  Roz also makes her own books.  I would like to begin making my sketchbooks too!

I also stumbled upon the Urban Sketchers.  Every time you visit this site, you can travel throughout the world without leaving your chair (although I would prefer to visit these places).  It has been so much fun seeing drawings from every part of the globe.

Who are your favourite sketchbook artists?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Upcycle: A Small Ecological Footprint

The City of Edmonton Reuse Centre    Photo: Margaret Braun
I have a strong sense and commitment to reducing my ecological footprint as a matter of daily practice.  

I come by it honestly.  My family are a creative and skilled group of Europeans who have been upcycling and repurposing as a way of life  throughout the generations.  I continue to believe in this practice and embody it in my art.   

Although upcycled art is the newest trend -- from potters to painters, from fine art to cottage crafts, artists and craftspeople have been doing this for years.  

Divine by Margaret Braun   Photo: Margaret Braun
The City of Edmonton established the Reuse Centre in 2007.  It accepts various items, free of charge, and makes available to organizations and individuals items that are not accepted for reuse elsewhere.  

I first learned about the Reuse Centre from artist and illustrator Crystal Driedger.  It is a unique place for artists.  I have discovered satin, silks, cotton, blouse and upholstery fabrics for the foundation of my drawings.  Beads, paints, jewelery, paper, crayons, fibres, wax, wire, wallpaper, buttons, thread, leather, needles, sequins, shells and yarn have made their way into my work.  
It is exciting to discover these discards that seemingly have little value.  Turning "nothing" into something results in beauty, resurrecting these undervalued materials with new vitality.  When placed in another contextual application, they experience a new genesis, bringing attention, significance and an elan vital.  I enjoy exploring a variety of materials to discover how they relate to one another, co-exist and merge together to create a dialogue.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kids Camp at Harcourt Gallery

Showing off newly made books   Photo: Margaret Braun
What fun we had today!

I was asked to be a guest artist at Harcourt House Art Centre's Kids Camp.   The participants were between the ages of 12 - 14.  Guess what we made?


I noticed that Susan Gaylord, a book artist that I highly respect, teaches book making to children using recycled materials and took my direction from her site then added my own twist.

I brought a dozen different papers, paper bags, playing and bingo cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, borders, wallpaper, bingo dabbers, maps, cardboard, sample fabrics, magazines, stencils, keys, ribbons, and a variety of found objects.

The students created fat little pocket-sized non-stitched books that served as sketchbooks, journals, and small photo albums.

Everyone left the class happy!  I even got some hugs!  They all assured me that they would continue producing more books tonight since they were overflowing with ideas.  I encouraged everyone to look around their homes to reuse, repurpose and recyle available materials and take the remaining classroom items with them.

Even the staff were interested in making these colourful books.  I promptly received an invitation to the year-end BBQ and was asked if I could teach everyone how to make these fun little books at the event.

I have to admit, when I got home I had to make a small book out of a beautifully marked paper bag for myself too!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Inlays, Onlays and the Ethiopian Coptic Stitch

It all began in Melissa's class at PBI.  Melissa is a fantastic artist!  I discovered her work before I met her.  In real life, she is imaginative, creative, funny, playful and full of life!  Just take look at Melissa's work.   I'll wait.  Really.  It's WELL worth looking at!  Seriously, I'll wait!

Waiting.... waiting.... waiting.....  Didn't I say she is fantastic???

Melissa taught us how to create the inlays and onlays.  This is one of my books.  It's covered with a sage green Japanese kozo paper, a snipit from a sofa ad, an orphaned earring, a piece of Melissa's leather and my broken lacy metal barrette.
Learning how to bind with four needles   Photo: Margaret Braun

I purchased Katie MacGregor's handmade paper for the inside.  It is cool soft green in colour with a beautiful "hand" to it.  You can't help but fall in love with Katie and her paper when you first meet them.  She is a beautiful woman inside and out.  Her paper making expertise is mind boggling.   And the variety of paper colours is astounding!  You can listen to Katie's interview on Book Artists and Poets.

So, all the elements were there but I had one problem.  I didn't know how to bind the book.

Luckily, I was blessed with the BEST roommate in all the campus!  Because of Emily's generosity, she taught me how to sew the Ethiopian Coptic Stitch.  One evening, Emily returned to the room around 12.30 a.m.  She had just experienced 15 hours in class working on a leather-bound late 18th Century French Binding.  It was nearly two before we got to bed that morning (not unlike any other morning) just in time to get up five hours later and repeat the process once again.  Emily is so dear, kind, intelligent, considerate, funny, compassionate, talented, helpful and hardworking.  (She didn't pay me to say this by the way.)  Like Katie she, too, is a beautiful woman inside and out!  Without her, I never would have learned how to bind a book with four needles.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Art and Friendships

Two extremely exhausted but very happy friends
Hearing from Velma, yesterday, thrilled me.  I miss my new-found PBI friends and Velma is one of them.

What is PBI you ask?  It is the "Paper  & Book Intensive" Workshop.  You will only find top notch instructors teaching bookbinding, papermaking, letter press and a variety of other classes relating to the book arts.

I came across PBI through iTunes oddly enough.  I was curious to see if there were any bookmaking podcasts available.  What popped up but Book Artists and Poets by Steve Miller who resides with the University of Alabama.  He has interviewed nearly one hundred individuals in the book arts field.  That's how I came to know about PBI.  I checked the site and emailed Steve Miller for more information.  Upon his recommendation I applied to PBI.  The day I was accepted, I danced around my apartment with excitement unable to speak!

The day I arrived at the University of Machias in Maine I was even more excited!  Meeting so many interesting, goodhearted, funny, knowledgeable, and passionate book arts people --  I discovered a family of playmates!

Check out Velma's site:  She has a homespun approach to sharing her life with you on her blog.  You can feel her warmth coming through.  Her love of natural dying, bookmaking, paper making and farm life is spell-binding.   She kept a bit of a diary during our exhausting but exhilarating days at Machias.  I would encourage you to discover the variety of activities we were involved in.  It was a great deal of fun!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Welcome to My Studio

Margaret Braun painting her studio     Photo:  Malina Bird
Hi!  My name is Margaret Braun and I am a visual artist.  Welcome to my studio in western Canada!

My intention is to ponder and play through the process of art making using fibre, paper, paint, photography and found objects.  I love to observe, discover, explore, collect and combine elements.

Over the last seven years, my work has concentrated on delicately sewn figure drawings. The drawings produce a light and whimsical treatment stitching the contours with a simple straight stitch, yielding intricate and lacy images. The works reveal an early influence with textiles, the sensual and tactile nature of my art making. My choice of materials originate from found, reused, recycled and repurposed items which depict the figurative subject matter with articles familiar to women.

I am particularly interested in utilizing found items that seemingly have little value.  Turning “nothing” into something results in a beauty that resurrects these undervalued materials with new vitality.  When placed in another contextual application, as in my artwork, they experience a new genesis which brings attention and significance to their new found being.  I enjoy exploring a variety of materials to discover how they relate to one another, co-exist and merge together to create a dialogue.

I have a strong sense and commitment to reducing my ecological footprint as a matter of daily practice.  Coming by it quite honestly, from my family of creative and skilled Europeans who reuse, recycle, and repurpose everything, I continue to believe in this lifestyle and embody it in my art.

I would like to continue to expand my horizons and make new discoveries.

Please join me.  Perhaps we could explore this world of art together!