Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Turtle Art Camp July 1 - 7, 09 in Wooster, Ohio

Greetings from Turtle Moon Studios and our garage door's Obama mural! My July TAC (Turtle Art Camp) included Juno (Jancy) McClellan, of Columbus, Ohio; Laurel Faye Frazer, of Logan, Utah; and Jeanette Thompson, of Chicago. If you think you've got what it takes to be a highly wonderful Camper here, check out my schedule on the front page of Turtle Moon Studios. I offer many week long camps during the year, and have been doing it since 1994. I have lots of practice by now! :)

The picture above reminds me of Viking Kitties for some reason.

We live in an older suburb of Wooster, where you can take peaceful walks with or without me, and where it's quiet at night, so you can have a very restful sleep. We have four student bedrooms on the main floor, but the studios are in the basement, so you've got to be able to do stairs.

The camp fee includes partial meals, room, tuition, and art supplies for the scheduled projects. You make around five paintings and quilt one during your stay here, besides doing some sketching and journaling. This time we watched "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" over three nights, but mostly stayed in the studio til really late. Happily, we all agreed on loving to watch the Colbert Report.

Oh, and we go out for supper together most nights, to tasty local restaurants. Yum!

Here's a little piece Juno bought from me at camp, before I added some personal airpen writing blessings to it for her. (What happened then was that I took really good TIF images of it, after the writing was added, but with my bad sight, I had the little pastel colored thing turned around backwards on the wall, to take the pix, and didn't notice. Juno, can you make me a couple of pix of it with the writing???? Yikes! That's never happened before!) It's from 2007 and is called "Apple Pie #4." I made a little series of these paintings when I was doing the big "Mom and Apple Pie" piece.

Here are my students with Jimmy and me on Wednesday night, July 1, at El Canelo, our best local Mexican Restaurant, having a very good time. They look pretty feisty, considering that they'd all just gotten to Wooster, some from pretty far away. I could tell, that first night, that this was going to be a very good camp week! The travel-in day was Wednesday, followed by five full days of studio work and group events, and the travel-out day was the next Tuesday, July 7. Now I'm sitting here alone, telling the story.

Laurel bought this small painting "Green Stink Pot #6," which I'd made in 2006, when I was still taking care of Eva and living parttime in my Lakewood granny pad.

I took my students along to my Yoga class at the Community Center, and they joined our Yoga View (sack lunch and chat) after the class. Here are my Yoga pals Jeanne Cremer, LaVerne Meier, and Valerie Buehler, along with my student Jeanette. Juno and Laurel were sitting beside her.

Around the table at Yoga View, from left: Judy Mitten, Paula Chenevy, Emily Speelman, and Sharon Kelly. I think there were about 12 of us at the table that day, after the class had about 18. Our yoga teacher, Mary Nicholls, is outta sight! OM!!!!

Here's the airpen table, with three airpen setups going at once: Juno, Laurel, and I were all putting diary writing on our pieces.

Our first day's group-created theme was Anxiety. And here's my response to that, in its pre-diary stage. "White Hair" is about how my mom told me, when I was little, that it wasn't so bad to be born with white hair, since when I got older, I'd never get gray hair. Then a few years ago, a waitress casually asked me if my hair used to be dark, and right away I realized that she thought I was now super-gray! A few weeks later, someone else asked me the same thing. So wah, now I just look old! :) I know there are way worse problems, but that's my story.

Here's the same piece, all written on (except I still have to write around the border.) I've done most of the machine quilting, and will still add my running stitch of perle cotton around the outside edge. Oh, and my Green Temple Buddha Boy, which I always add.

This camp group was pretty amazing, in that we did a lot of extra-curricular activities, such as shopping several times at the going-out-of-business sale downtown in Wooster at Sew Krazy. But we also worked late into the night, each night, to make sure we put in our six hours a day of studio time. Jeanette thinks we worked way more, actually. Here are Laurel and Jeanette, when they decided to buy the dress form mannequins at Sew Krazy.

Juno was all happy Friday, when her fiance Donovan came to lunch at Turtle Moon, after being away, working in St Louis, for weeks. He even went down to Sew Krazy and picked up the diningroom chairs Juno had bought there, to take to store in Columbus, til they can put them into the house Juno's buying. (The closing was yesterday, when she got home from camp here.)

On Friday night, July 3, we heard that Sarah Palin had resigned her governorship in Alaska, and this caused great inquisitiveness at Turtle Art Camp. I was in the middle of airpen lessons at the time, so I used my airpen to record some of our thoughts on the subject. Yes, alas, you Republicans wouldn't like it here. We had a Dem fest that night! If you need more Sarah in your life, go watch the Governor Sarah Palin Vlogs on YouTube, by Sara Benincasa.

One day our theme was "Love Pie." Laurel recalled the little pie vent bluebird her grandmother had, and made a very sweet piece about it.

On July Fourth, we all settled on the theme "Liberty," and this is my drawing, made during our daily 10 minutes of library time. You'll see Sarah popping in again. :) We were all celebrating the fact that the crown of the Statue of Liberty opened up to the public again on July 4, after closing on 911, 2001.

And here's the same idea, carried over to a fat quarter of Kona cotton, and drawn with the airpen and black Jacquard fabric paint, which is what I always use in my airpen. Since I hadn't had time to do the Love Pie theme the day before, I merged the two themes here, and stuck a candle in my Love Cupcake Pie. This piece got stuck at this stage, with no coloring or diary writing yet. I hope to get back to it.

When I did my airbrush demo on Saturday afternoon (still July 4), I used a one-yard piece of Kona, and ran out of room for Sarah and her ducklings. I doubled the cupcake image, but forgot to write "Pies" after Cupcake, so I added it later. I put in my cat Ome, and used Jeanette's idea of putting a Hawaiian lei on Ms Liberty.

After I drew the lines with black airbrush paint, I colored in my yellows, but switched to green, so I could have that copper-Ms Liberty green to help me choose the rest of the colors to use.

After adding blues, I went back and put in my oranges and pinks. Writing stories and news events will come next.

Here's a detail. I heat set with a hot, dry iron, while wearing my respirator and using a big exhaust fan, after each step of airbrush, airpen, or regular brush work. But these are short sets, and I'll do a longer one when the piece is eventually all done. (I think I'm accumulating way oo much unfinished art in piles, due to all this year's teaching!)

Laurel got kinda stuck, due to airbrush fear, so, when the conceptual glass of wine didn't dislodge her, I got her a real glass of wine. (OK, mug of wine.) And she was able to loosen up, making the start of a lovely piece about her daughter's wedding party with her new husband.

Here she's working away like a pro, or rather, like the six-year-old I try to get all my students to think like. You've gotta not judge your work and just let it come out. Laurel printed out a picture she'd taken of the kids, but it's just a light reminder, and she did a good job of just making the painting happen, with little staring at the photo.

Laurel carefully sandwiched her Love Pie piece, creating a really deep border at the top of the piece, so it would work with the heart-shaped, irregular top edge of the piece. We all really love this piece!

We had Goddess for the last day's theme, and Juno made this Goddess of Balance and Tranquility as her big airbrush painting. She took a July, 2008 camp from me, too, so she had a base of training to work from.

Here's Jimmy in the morning, checking his email and the weather on our iMac, Paloma, while also reading his hands-on newspaper, the Wooster Daily Record.

Jeanette, who suggested the Liberty theme, due to the crown of the Statue of Liberty being reopened, works here on her painting of it. She had made a sketch first, but was good about not blocking the spontaneity by slavishly copying from the sketch. I think our work is much more fresh and full of movement, when we only refer to a sketch for ideas and placement, and let the drawing come flowing out.

Juno made a piece about the going-out-of-business sale at Sew Krazy, and put us into it, with the dress forms.

On the Fourth, Jimmy made us a nice barbecue, and Duane Hart stopped in to visit. Duane's done a lot of work on our home and studios in the last few years, and he's a great computer guru, as well. Jimmy made us hobo potatoes, steak, portabella mushrooms, and Boca burgers. I made some sides, and we had a very nice patio picnic.

Later that night, we wandered down our street, with water bottles and lawn chairs, to watch the fireworks with other neighborhood thrill seekers, at the intersection of Armstrong Drive and Hickory. We always watch the city's fireworks from this spot, about four miles from the Big Event. Then we walked home and worked in the studio some more.

For her big airbrush piece, Jeanette made a goddess for peaceful sleep. Wait til you see it all colored in!

Here are all of our airbrush paintings, at the stage where they need any airpen diary writing yet, but are all done being drawn and colored with airbrush. Clockwise from top left: Laurel's, mine, Jeanette's, and Juno's.

Jeanette's got a Janome 6600, just like mine, at home. Here she's doing her quilting my way, after creating her quilt sandwich my way. It's such a weird way to work, I try to get all the students to do it once here, so they don't get all scrambled, trying to do it at home for the first time. Most people would rather just paint up a storm here, but it's good to have the chance to try all my processes, while you're here at camp.

This is the last one of my 2006 "Garden of Freedoms" pieces, that I still had left, aftr making seven of them originally. I got the idea, because of a commission request for a garden piece, and then I thought up the catch phrase: America: Love it or Weed it. The original buyer was happy with my garden of liberal political writing, so I made a bunch of them, each a little different. Laurel bought this last one. Maybe I'll do it again, since I made them well before Obama ran for President. Oh, and then Michelle made her White House garden. I think I forgot to write my Love it or Weed it thing on those little Michelle and Queen pieces!

Juno, Jeanette, and Laurel posed in town, in front of our courthouse and my "LeRoys" statues. (Yes, they're really statues of Atlas, holding up the world, but I made ghost stories about them for my nieces and nephew.) Laurel has her arm around another of the dress forms, which she bought Monday! I bought the other four chairs Juno didn't take, and we all bought lots of fabric, yarn, buttons, etc. There's a lot of stuff left, all at 50% off, and they say the sale may last into October. :)

We didn't attend the Saturday morning Farmer's Market this time, since we hit the little one in front of the Community Center, when we went in for Yoga. And since we really needed to be in the studio! But here Juno and I are holding up the Farmer's Market piece I made last year, about the July camp she was part of then, too. She's the girl near the top, with two ponytails (beside the LeRoys.) I had just unpacked this piece and my large "Potluck" piece, because they'd just returned from the Shakerag faculty exhibition. On the wall behind us is my "Obama R.E.I." piece, which had just returned from Sacred Threads.

I always give my students a talk about how I keep records of all my artworks. So unpacking and checking out the returning works, along with marking them as back at home, became part of this camp's demo.

I always offer to do astrology charts for my camp students. This, along with learning airbrush painting, is something I only do here at home, not when I teach "out." So here we are, with charts, notebooks, and my little "Lucky Stars" books spread all over the kitchen table. Jimmy had just finished a set of deerskin baby booties to send to a friend of his, so we were admiring those, and Ome, our gray cat, had decided to hang out on the table, during the lesson, so she could be one of the girls and get petted.

Juno's got that cell phone again! She was struggling with the paper chase of prep for a delayed home-buying closing all week, and finally, after the full moon, it happened on Tuesday, after she got home. But before that moon peaked, she was having to juggle art camp with crazy demands on her for paperwork from a distance. She had brought pix of the house, along with a little piece she was making about it, and I know she and Donovan will love having this sweet home together. I sure hope the closing went really smoothly!!!

Juno's buying my 2002 to 2006 piece "Sweet Patooty" for her new home. It's one of those all hand stitched pieces I used to make, which I started here at a camp long ago. I did most of its stitching during my quiet evenings at the granny pad, in 2005 and 06, after adding its peace symbols and more eyes. Click on it to see its details better, which of course, you can do with all these pictures. That's one reason I now have a blog, instead of a website diary: It's a lot easier to work with the pix and have huge versions of them automatically set up by Blogger. Thank you!

And here's a detail of the bottom part of "Sweet Patooty." I miss all that hand work, and those fancy shisha mirror sewings I used to teach my students to do.

This is the shrink art label on the back of "Sweet Patooty." I use white shrink art and light colored Sharpie markers. A Rub-a-Dub laundry marker kind of etches into the plastic, making it look more like clay than plastic. I write on the back side, too, upside down, with a statement that you can flip the label up to read.

I loved watching Juno sitting around, doing her hand sewing, like I used to do. In the old days, before I had trouble with numb fingertips, I would sew whenever I had the chance. That's how you get it done, all that work! Good to see my students carrying it on, with their healthier fingers!

Above are all the smaller pieces we started in the five day class here this last week. None of these are finished, but for some we have high hopes! And then there are those larger airbrushed ones that we all liked so much. Can we do it????? Maybe we can, if we stay out of Sew Krazy (oh, and The Bead Café and my friend Early's antique shop ... ) for a while!

Peace and hang loose, from Turtle Moon Studios.

Love, Lucky


  1. It looks like you all had a stellar week at 'the turtle'...much bravo all around.

  2. Wow. What a fantastic event. And so productive!

    I have a burning question... what kind of black resist are you guys using in the airpen?

  3. In the airpen I use black fabric paint,not resist. It's Jacquard's Textile Color line, black. It's pigment, so it's much more archival than inks or resists.

    I thin the black paint to the thickness of heavy whipping cream, before you whip the cream. I put it through a #60 mesh paint strainer from Dick Blick, as I load it into the airpen cartridge, scraping/stirring it with a flat bristle brush. It should drip about once a second. If the thickness is off, the airpen doesn't write well on fabric.