Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Drawing Is Theraputic

While teaching my eighth-grade students about eyes today, I grabbed a piece of paper to use as a demo for what I was trying to explain. We kept working on their projects and they turned out some pretty good ones. After the bell rang and everybody left for home I sat back down at my scratch paper and started to doodle, something I rarely have time for. Before I knew it, I had been sitting in my classroom in the peace and quiet, drawing for an hour! It was enjoyable. 

Yeah, I know, it's not  a masterpiece, but it sure was calming to do. 

I drew a lot as a kid. I did some drawing as a young mother, too but I haven't done much pencil work in the last 15 years or so. To just sit down and let my mind wander while I worked on a sketch was relaxing. Once I was finished I gathered my things and headed home feeling considerably less stressed than I usually do. I haven't fretted about work all evening. Silly me, I seem to learn the same lessons over and over again, don't I?  Creating things is good for my spirit. Just a silly doodle thing full of flaws but something about making it was cathartic. I feel pretty good. I hope you do too. 

Thanks for stopping by!  Alice

Saturday, September 26, 2015


We fought our way through eyes in art this week.  My students have asked to be taught how to draw things, so we are learning to draw eyes.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy drawing facial features.  I think the kids did, too, after they stopped saying they couldn't draw, it's too hard and can you come draw it for me??

Our practice eyes... next week we'll work to make them bigger and a bit scary.

Making big pictures of eyes has made them think we need to make a whole wall of eyes to pin up for October- the attraction?  They'll look creepy!  What could be more cool?  I never know what will capture the kids attention, but apparently, anything creepy has definite potential.  So, on we go- onward and upward.  Happily creeping ourselves out.  

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Today's assignment was posted on the dry erase board.  We needed to learn about line.  The students could choose one or more coloring page and color it with line only.  My examples were fun to make and I looked forward to what the students would come up with.

The assignment

It was satisfying to watch the colors and ideas they came up with to fulfill the assignment, making things colors they weren't, or changing lines from horizontal to vertical.  They seemed to enjoy this. 

How a couple of the students decided to work.  Nice and careful work.  They all did a beautiful job on their pieces.

However, seeing what one student came up with was such a great reminder to me.  He really played.  He didn't worry about realistic color or shape, he created.  I was so excited to see his work and the way he interpreted the project.  He really got into the concept of line.  

However, this student took it and ran with it, turning it from a coloring project to art.

Made me think; I don't usually play much in my studio.  I worry too much about how 'good' my work will be and get right into planning ahead on how I want it to look, how I'll handle each passage and what color palette to use.  This student went with the moment and made a piece that was a real expression of how he was feeling.  It reminded me that I have a job-  I don't have to worry about selling paintings.  I can just come out to the studio and do whatever takes my imagination.  I can play,  and should- and that is delicious to anticipate.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Monday, September 21, 2015

What's In A Name?

A few years ago, the local fire department had to spend a percentage of new building funds on art. The state had a database of artists who had been through the application process to have their paintings considered. The committee choosing the artwork for the county fire department came across works by Alice Webb and were thrilled to purchase local work, or so they thought!  It was actually who I have come to call the fake Alice Webb. No, not my paintings at all. The fake Alice paints in oils and is from Albuquerque. It causes confusion at Santa Fe Art Supply as well and I even got a congratulatory phone call after the state fair one year when one of her paintings placed. 

One of the paintings by the other Alice Webb, it IS lovely. 

Today I got a call telling me my painting had sold. Instead of going to the fairgrounds to pick it up, I headed home, glad to get a jump on the long drive. On the way home, I was thrilled for about two hours. Then, I got to thinking.  After a couple of phone calls, I realized that not only did I not sell it, I was halfway home without it!  What a day. I think I'll play in pools closer to home from now on. It will all end well- my friend will hold onto it till I can make other arrangements. But what a bother. 

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Location, Location, Location

Today we went to the New Mexico State Fair to take a look at the paintings in the fine arts building. The quality of the paintings, engravings, sculptures and other work is outstanding. I love looking at the paintings there every year because I learn so much from them. 

The building the fine arts exhibit is in is lovely, classic New Mexico-style architecture, but small for the volume of work entered. The paintings are hung close together and high up the walls to accommodate them all. When we finally found my painting I was disappointed at the placement of it. Hung high and crowded, it was hard to get a vantage point to really look at it. I'm not feeling picked on, there are quite a few very good paintings displayed in similar places. There simply isn't room to display all of the pieces well. However, I learned some important things from this experience- things I'll write about after I've processed this some more. In the meantime, I feel good knowing I finally put some work in the fair. Oh, and be assured I had permission to take this photo! 

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Today, a 5th grade girl who never gives me trouble wouldn't stop talking and bothering the other students.  I finally lost patience and sent her back to her regular classroom, banished from art for the day.  Before I left school this afternoon, I found out she had a relative commit suicide last night.  Something was wrong in her world, terribly wrong, but I didn't know how to see the clues. How will I learn to read these children, to understand what gives them cheerful faces when they are dealing with terrible things in their lives?  I feel so inadequate.

One of my second grade students cannot be good in his regular class to save his life.  However, when he gets to art,  there is no naughtiness, only a drive to create things.  I love his art.  
My students are talented and innocent and terribly sophisticated all at once.  What they know and have dealt with has the capability to shock me.  I admire them for their resilience and ability to find joy every day.  However, the idea that this pattern of drug use and suicide has the potential to be passed down in these children's lives makes my stomach hurt.

On a brighter note, a little kindergartener made this masterpiece for me this morning.  It's a 'pider no-man.' (Spider Snowman!!)
I have always felt that art can help people work their way through the tragedies and sorrows of their lives, but in real life, I can only hope that I am right. Now that I'm in a front row seat and a minor player in this drama, I have to figure out how to use my limited understanding to try to give what aid I can through art.  Tonight, however, it feels very large and I feel very small.

Thanks for stopping by- Alice


Monday, September 14, 2015

Maybe I Like Gouache

This is fascinating paint.  Hmm, I was worried there for a bit that my dread of it would keep me from painting indefinitely.  Gouache actually is watercolor with less planning.  I say less planning because if I want to, I can add white to my paint and cover an area that I would have had to leave empty till I was ready to tackle it.  Sort of.  Make sense?  No...    

The Storm Approaches
7" x 10"
The paint on the foreground wasn't dry when I took this picture, as you can see in the bushes.  I have no patience.  

Let me put it this way; if I wanted a deep sky with transparent watercolor, I would have to leave the highlights white or mask them.  That leaves hard lines sometimes, so that has to be factored in.  On this painting, I went very dark then added highlights on top of it with a yellowed down white paint mixture.  It is an additive process, I can layer with opaque color and go lighter.  With transparent paint, you can only go darker.  So far, that's the main difference I find.  I'm not abandoning my true painting love, transparent watercolor, just learning some new techniques to make things interesting.  Isn't painting a gas?  Well, you know, when it works, that is.  

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cloud Practice

Although it was not a stay-at-home-and-do-my-own-thing-in-my-jammies day, I did get to spend a bit of studio time.  I'm a hit and miss sky painter in regular watercolors, so I figured I'd work to see if I can do a more consistent sky job with gouache.  Here's the result so far:
Laying the paint into fairly wet paper, I was tickled to see the granulating white beginning to run downwards on the paper into the blue.  What a fun effect and one I'll use again.  It didn't soak in, it stayed on top of the paper, creating a stormy look I haven't figure out in transparent paints yet.  This medium has it's fun parts- big sigh of relief...  

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Friday, September 11, 2015

Landscaping With Gouache

After work today I decided to play with the gouache paints.  Just play.  No pressure.  While they are a really tough medium to adjust to, I have to admit I had fun.  I realize how much I have to learn about them and might even enjoy learning this.  Might, I said.
I first laid in the foundation color, including putting the same yellow into the sky area as I used in the foreground. 

The view outside of my studio was calling, so I tried it again.  If you've been reading my blog for long, you've seen this view before in other practice paintings.  However, this might be the most colorful incarnation of it yet.  The gouache paints dry darker and more intense than I'm used to!  With transparent watercolor you beef up the chroma because it will dry lighter.  From what I am reading, I understand that the lights in gouache dry lighter and the darks dry darker.  Try that for confusing!
Fascinating process, putting opaque over transparent.  New way of thinking and planning as I go.  Not that I have it figured out; I don't.  I can see, though, that it will require being on my toes.

Now I've got the bit in my teeth; I'm ready to work with this some more.  If it's a fight or fun, either way it's a learning process.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dirt. Lot's of Dirt.

Who has time to clean their studio when the house is only getting a lick and a promise now and then? You can usually tell how nasty this place is by how many dustpans full of dirt and fluff get filled up.  As humiliating as it is to admit, I've been avoiding digging the studio out.  Not news, I know, I do this every now and then, but maybe you are a studio-cleaning-avoider like me and this will make you feel better about yourself.  If not, you can at least feel a bit smug about your tidy ways.  Either way, you're welcome.

Every time I do this, I realize how many art supplies I have and remember the projects I have planned to do with them.  Although I rarely pick those long-planned projects up, the supplies for them get my creative juices stirred up and I find myself chomping at the bit to make something.  Like a painting or cookies!  Warm cookies are a pretty strong contender, you have to admit.  Whichever way the wind blows me, know that I am happy and absorbed in the moment.  I hope you are, too.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Blogging From Wherever I Stand

I know, I've been sporadic again.  This blog was begun to track my progress and help hold me accountable to record my work somewhere!  As I've been learning to teach school, I have let it lapse a bit, but not because I wasn't learning and growing- rather because I figured my work at school wouldn't be interesting.  I had forgotten the purpose of this blog.  Again.  However, the desire to process my life through words is pushing on me.  That means sometimes I'll be writing about school.  I don't apologize for it, but felt a bit of an explanation was due.  Teaching about art is making art, too.  Just in a different way.
There are dozens of self-portraits hanging in the hall outside my classroom.  Every day I think I come up with a new favorite.  This is today's.  When nobody is in the hall I just stand in front of them and laugh with joy. 

You see, I have already come to love my students and feel how much they need creative expression in their lives.  Matter of factly, now and then, one will say something like, "My dad is in prison, Miss."  Or, "Will you keep this drawing here, Miss?  I don't have parents at my house."  No call for pity, just a fact offered up to me.  They bring me drawings, they line up for hugs after class and they tell me they love me.  How could this not take over my heart?  At night I dream about what we are making and I plan projects for them as I drive to and from school.  I ponder on how to help the student whose father committed suicide last week and the ones who are approaching teenager years and trying to settle the conflict between looking macho and making nice artwork.  The two are mutually exclusive in some of their worlds.  
My middle schoolers are just winding up a self-portrait project of their own- we transferred their faces onto art paper and each line has to be covered with words about themselves.  

So, sometimes this will be about my students and what I'm learning.  Sometimes it will be about my art- hopefully more and more as I begin to adjust to this intense experience.  I hope you'll come around and grow along with me.  I like having you here.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Monday, September 7, 2015

Painting Rocks

Sitting by a stream in the White Mountains this weekend, I practiced painting rocks.  Getting away from home and the constant planning for work was a grand idea!  One can only think about work 24/7 for so long without needing to hit the reset button, and hit it we did.  The only bad part is coming home with camping gear needing cleaned and put away.    

"Under the Bridge"
7" x 10"

I only brought a small handful of watercolors along because I was going to use gouache.  Again.  I didn't use it. Again.  So.. with my limited palette, I did the above sketch in an hour or so.  I seem to have some avoidance issues going on here.  Still.  Could be the new gouache paints have caused a bit of studio constipation as I haven't painted much for several weeks now.  I'm going to put my big girl panties on and work my way past this.  Soon.  Really!

Thanks for stopping by-  Alice