from crayon box to powering my soul… color defines me

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In the Studio with a MOMA MOOC

The second course I signed up for on Coursera.org is much more experiential than the Learning How to Learn (LHTL) course I wrote about 2 posts ago. I took a leap and signed up for “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting”. We’re exploring the Abstract Expressionists of the New York School. I knew 2 of the artists by name, the rest are new to me, which is exciting. I still think about my favorite undergrad classes: Art History 101 and 102, which pushed us to experience an onstage presentation, a play, a musical, an operetta, an art show, sculpture, and architecture.

Forty years later, I am studying art again. Through my latest class at http://www.coursera.org we have learned a bit about Barnett Newman, who’s pieces were huge, often 18 feet in length (at left below). My exploration resulted with this interpretation of his process I call “Grounded” (at right below):

Newman made what he called “zips” and I practiced a couple of different types of zips on my much smaller version (11 x 14″). The course instructor is Corey D’Augustine, artist and curator at MOMA. I naively presumed this studio exercise would be simple; Corey made it look easy, however I was surprised at how difficult it is to try to ensure your lines are straight. I used all acrylics: Raw sienna covers the entire canvas, then I taped the left zip and covered everything with yellow ochre. Next I taped the 2 right zips. I mixed Payne’s gray with Titanium white & gloss medium for the thicker of the two stripes and use straight-from-the-tube Payne’s gray for the thinnest stripe or zip. Finally, I used Naples yellow with palette knife for far right imperfect edged and textured zip.

Next up was Willem de Kooning. I think his work is interesting because it changed so much over the years; there is not one phase of his work that I can readily conclude is de Kooning’s style.

I used the same color palette as Corey did in the studio exercise video. I couldn’t find Titanium Buff so I tried to create my own flesh tone; it is a bit darker and pinker than I expected. This is my first experience using oils and I liked mixing in linseed oil, varnish, and mineral spirits, even water. My favorite parts of the de Kooning process were the charcoal pencil and the removing processes, like scraping, scratching, and rubbing off with turpentine on a rag… love that look! On the downside, I hated the clean up process of oils. I’m a messy artist and my hands were covered in oil paint. I just threw away my yogurt cup “bowls” and inexpensive brushes. I think I’ll stick with acrylics for future studio exercises. I like the final result, but am clueless as to whether it’s “finished”! I named it “Macaw” for the colors and textures.

Look for more from the class as I continue to explore in upcoming blogs…


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The Spark is ReIgnited!

This past year had been a bit of a challenge for me, as it has for many of us. I see, for example, the last time I wrote on my blog was 2015 just after my brother passed away from complications of Type 1 Diabetes. Since then, I’ve focused on taking care of myself, because, really, who else is going to do that for me, better than I will? I had a knee replacement and have been doing water aerobics and swimming laps several times a week. What a joy it is to be back in the water (must be the Aquarian in me?)!

Along with improved health, I’ve lit a fire under my creative side and have been happily creating new mixed media projects, many of which you can see in my Etsy online shop: CarlasCraft.etsy.com but, of course, I plan to share some with you right now – I hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I enjoyed making them!


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A Visual Feast

Last fall I signed up for a week-long Artist’s Retreat in Puerto Vallarata. It was one of those rare (very rare, actually) decisions where I put myself first and escaped from work and home and the everyday. Arriving on a Sunday, with my largest bag stuffed with art supplies, I found myself at the Hacienda Mosaico searching for a way in. Eventually, I realized that the hanger wire poking through the stucco wall was a door bell, connected to an internal bell that let those inside my new haven know that I had arrived.

Once inside, the stucco’d walls encased an amazing world of tropical trees and flowers, a charming blue pool and several casitas. We had a wonderful chef who served us amazing breakfasts at 9 a.m. and late lunches at 2 p.m. which I usually followed with a swim to cool off. We eventually went out on the town between 8 and 9 p.m. for a bite or celebratory dinner on the beach, our toes wiggling in the cool sand surrounded by tiki torches. The hacienda is filled with mosaic and brightly colored art.

Our week included art classes and free creative time where we share ideas with each other and experimented with color, texture and products. A trip into town to a little art supply store and to purchase milagros, Spanish charms, and sundresses. Another trip one evening for the weekly Art Walk, a musical event in front of the Cathedral, and to watch the sun set. Here’s what I completed during my little reality escape:

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Suzette, the Survivor Dress Form

This past weekend, the third weekend of every October, I participated in the annual 24-hour Survivor Crop event in Vista, CA, a community in San Diego’s North County. Survivor Crop is a fundraiser organized  by Camille and Jon Akin (owners of EverAfter Scrapbooks) to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. There were 100 participants this year, fewer than years prior most likely due to the economic climate. But, we raised $76,200, more than any other year, this being the 12th year of Survivor Crop, and my 10th year participating.  Cropping is cutting and editing photos to focus on the most important part of the picture. We scrapbook, make cards, and do a variety of crafts… sewing, painting, my friend Yvonne was even crocheting an amazing purple cowl scarf for me!

“We survive 24 hours so others can survive.” While we have fun creating our island theme, decorations, costumes, etc. we are also very serious about our fundraising and the cause. Our island has two survivors as participants. My mother was diagnosed with ductal breast cancer at age 80, seven years ago. She, too, is a survivor. All of us participate for someone specific or simply for everyone. We want to find a cure for breast cancer.

We also have Survivor Crop sponsors who provide meals, make-and-take projects, contest prizes, participation thank-you gifts, chair massages, and much more! Prima Marketing provided each “island” with a dress form and paper, stickers and flowers to decorate our “survivor.” Of course, being the creative soul that I am – with a strong desire to stand out – I suggested we paint our dress form black for contrast. We created a paper bustier, complete with rhinestone belt, flowers on the hip and shoulder, and a tulle skirt. She seems oh so French, so we named her Suzette. Suzette, the Survivor. A pink ribbon on top, a ribbon and a string of jewels along the bustline, and a butterfly finish her with panache.  Here, meet Suzette:

Suzette, the Survivor

Each “island” created their own beautiful dress forms. See them here:

Duct tape continues to be a big hit with many, for example in the gold bustier above. The few men hanging around our event were asked to judge and they selected the green butterfly dress form as the winner. We also alter the t-shirts we receive at the event and have our own little Project Runway show. There are contests for page layouts and altered bras. I create an altered bra every year. Last year my “Ultimate i-pad(ded)” bra won 2nd place. I covered a black bra with i-pad icons and a large pink flower in the cleavage. We tend to be a bit irreverent with our creations, altering ideas and materials, but it’s all in good fun and for a good cause. This year the creations included:

Scrabble - the Winner

Scrabble – the Winner

My last attempt this year… if you would like to help, pick a breast cancer non-profit organization and make a donation this month – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Think Pink!

A Colorful Subject

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"Wish" by Carla Bange

“Wish” by Carla Bange

I’ve taken the week off for a much-needed stay-cation. On Tuesday, I visited Snooze: An A.M. Eatery in Hillcrest for a yummy breakfast… the advantage of going on a weekday is that the wait isn’t as long as on weekends, only 15-20 minutes. I started with a great bloody mary and from previous visits, I highly recommend the Benny selections (eggs benedict), as well as the Pancake Flight (3 different kinds) and OMG! French Toast… which is aptly named. I asked my server, Monika, what she thought of the sweet potato pancakes and she added one on to my eggs order.  I recommend the sweet potato pancake but with the caramel syrup on the side – because it’s excessively sweet and in this case, less is more.

I ended my breakfast with a photo of Monika, who with her colorful hair and lovely complexion inspired this painting. How weird was it for her when I asked if I could take her photo on my phone so I could “paint” her? Potentially creepy, to be sure, but she was gracious and a bit flattered. She also gave me a tip to check out the art classes on Ray Street, which I plan to do.

I created “Wish” tonight, with Monika’s photo as my inspiration, using watercolor pencil, watercolor pens, pan pastels, acrylic paint and glitter paint on birch plywood. I used a sticker rhinestone for her piercing, the perfect final touch. Thanks Monika, for the wonderful service and the photo!

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Cut with Scissors Along the Dashed Line

My fascination with cutting things out started at a very young age. Long before the Internet, there were newspapers and magazines and contests to enter…. “free” no less! If a box had dashed lines around it and, better yet, an image of a pair of scissors indicating one should cut along the lines, I was immediately enthralled and in search of said scissors. I so loved the prospect of filling in my name and address on the form, writing out the mailing address and my return address on an envelope, adding a stamp and dropping it in the mailbox out front lifting the little red flag alongside to notify the postman of outgoing mail (yes, we called them postmen not postal carriers back in those days long before anyone worried about being PC).  I never won anything as I recalled, but it was the dream of the possibility that I just might win that kept me mailing off multiple entries. As I grew up and went out on my own, cutting coupons replaced entering contests, but the time spent to cut, organize, cull through and discard the expired ones, was most likely more costly than the intended savings and I eventually gave that practice up.

But, as I was checking out audio books on CD at the library that I had reserved online, I looked up and saw a poster about an Art Contest. Upon inquiring, the librarian brought the poster over for me to read. A contest – a challenge, what fun, oh my! The San Diego County Library is celebrating its Centennial with an Art Contest based on the theme 100 years of stories. I’ve always loved a contest, so…. I created this 11×14″ watercolor of a woman with some of the best first lines of novels written in the past 100 years throughout her hair. The line “Call me Ishmael” is the most popular first liner that comes to mind; so I googled others and ended up with this girl:

100 Best First Liners

100 Best First Liners

Imagine my surprise when playing back my answering machine messages this week to hear Sara from the library calling to inform me that my art won 2nd place in the Adult category! She asked whether my full name could be published with the art and I agreed. The entries will travel around San Diego County from one library to the next based on the schedule listed here, along with the other winners: http://www.sdcl.org/centennial/centennial-contest.html Sara also mentioned that my prize would be available at the Poway branch within the week.

Prize? Prize? Who said anything about a prize? I had no idea. I’m just a sucker for a challenge and a contest 🙂 To be real honest, my hope was for a library version of the Get Out of Jail Free card in the Community Chest pile in Monopoly, where I could have late fees waived a couple times in the upcoming year… I always seem to have 3 or 4 chapters left to listen to on a book on CD when its due back and cannot be renewed because its been reserved by another patron, hence the late fees.  I’m assured, though, that it’s just a little prize.

Actually, I received a $50 gift card to Barnes ‘N Noble… no small gift there! I will love browsing B&N, deciding what to select, particularly if its a new book on creating art! The reference librarian who presented my prize told me about the Adult summer Reading Program. She said the Friends of the Library had really come through this summer and she had several gift cards for local retailers to present to lucky winners, so I signed right up. You only have to read 4 books between now and August 10th, and I will easily accomplish that. PLUS, the Read for a Reason program helps benefit shelter dogs – here’s how:  “For every extra hour you read beyond the goal, shelter dogs will receive one pound of dog food from Hill’s Science Diet, up to 5,000 pounds.” Since I am reading anyway, why not help the puppies out! They’re only at 625 pounds, so sign up and let’s all do some SUMMER READING!

Spring Cleaning… Are We Done Yet?

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When I was growing up, my parents would pack our luggage and my sibs and I into the station wagon with them for summer vacations. We would drive from our Midwestern home to the coast or up north. At lunch time, we would pull over at a rest stop, get out the cooler and picnic basket and mom would make sandwiches and give us Kool-Aid in little Dixie cups (pre-Solo red cup days). If it was dinner time and we had not yet made it to our motel destination (Holiday Inn was our motel chain of choice), we’d pick up a bucket of KFC, stop at another rest area, set up a picnic table with a plastic tablecloth, plastic utensils and mom would prepare a tossed green salad, with our choice of dressings she had packed in advance.

My father always said that our favorite road trip phrase was, “Are we there yet?” He also said that my sister and I just had to stop and see what every restroom from here to there looked like. I never thought much about how the restroom looked; I just had a small bladder. One of my favorite older movies is “The Hellfighters” starring John Wayne and Jim Hutton (Timothy Hutton’s dad). hellfighters

When Wayne, as Chance Buckman, is injured he takes a desk job on the board of an oil company and is bored senseless. At one point, he’s in a meeting where a marketing guy is showing options for remodeling the restrooms of the company’s gas stations explaining that blue is calming, red is elegant, and green is… I don’t remember what. As a kid, I thought it was the oddest thing that this group of business men were discussing what color the restrooms should be at their stations. I wondered if this was what my dad did at work and thought that his job was pretty dumb if he did.

Fast forward to today and my dilemma with my latest art project… are we done yet?

I’m not one to plan “spring cleaning” but for some unknown reason this past Sunday I decided that the drawers and medicine cabinet in the bathroom needed to be purged. Everything came out and then only those items I’ve used in the past year were returned, neatly and organized… at least for now.

I had seen from another WordPress blogger the reference to YouTube videos by Jennings644 called New Projects. The video shows how she took trinkets, adhered them to canvas and misted, sprayed and painted them. I imagined that she had either been collecting these type trinkets for years or had spent a bundle purchasing them. Here’s the link to the video I watched: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2pTj64xnvw

So inspired, I glued the items I had planned to throw out onto an 18×24″ canvas, covered everything with gesso, and once dry used Glimmer Mist and Art Anthology Colorations sprays to create an ombre effect from black at the top, transitioning to blue and then purple at the bottom. I was trying to decide whether it was finished or not and thought about pouring Glam glitter paint in running drips on it but was afraid I might ruin the effect because I really liked it as it was. So, I made a similar piece on a small 11×14″ canvas gluing odds and ends from around the house onto the canvas, covering them with gesso, and then spraying the canvas with Glimmer Mist: green on the left, blue in the middle and red on the right. Once dry, I dribbled on color-coordinated Glam glitter paint and decided I liked the effect. So, I went back to my original dark canvas and added Glam drips to it, too.

I’ve decided the smaller canvas looked like a person’s head so have titled it “Monkey Brain” because I always have all these things (or junk) flying around in my head and it depicts that in me. The larger canvas I have titled “Articles de toilette de courrier-Apocolypse” (or “Post-Apocolypse Toiletries”). I then had Shad at ChromeDigital, on Kettner near the Airport area of San Diego, take photos and mount them on gator board.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the result. I’m quirky, they’re quirky. What’s not to love, right?

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“Monkey Brain” – 11×14″ mixed media canvas
by Carla Bange

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“Articles de toilette de courrier-Apocolypse”
[“Post-Apocolypse Toiletries”]
18×24″ mixed media canvas – Carla Bange

Closeup black

Closeup black

Close up purple

Close up purple

Close up ombre transition from blue to purple

Close up ombre transition from blue to purple

purples

purples

more purples

more purples

blues

blues

Close up ombre transition black to blue

Close up ombre transition black to blue

Close up blue

Close up blue

Close up black

Close up black

This gallery contains 13 photos