Heavy Boots

In the book "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Jonathan Safran Foer's post-9/11 story, the young narrator describes his sadness as being like wearing "heavy boots."  That is how these days feel. All we can do is try to continue to work in some way and be kind to ourselves and each other.

 I hope that you are finding solace in your art materials. Grab some crayons and let yourself be a kid.  Don't worry about what you make, just make something. Just move forward, in your heavy boots.


Convergence at Cabrillo

Old Lighthouse, 11 x 14", oil on linen panel.  More available Cabrillo work here.

More details about Convergence!  This is going to be a very exciting art event.  It's a partnership of Cabrillo's Artist in Residence program and the Monument Conservancy, with the artist organization A Ship in the Woods.  From their website:  "With 48 established and emerging artists working in tandem with historians and scientists, CONVERGENCE showcases thought-provoking artworks exploring the site from a range of disciplines.  Throughout the park, viewers will be able to experience immersive artworks including video projections on the lighthouse; interactive installations, a secret garden, experimental sound installations, a tea ceremony using endemic plants from the Cabrillo National Monument, large scale exhibits made from recycled plastic, performance art, spoken word, mobile augmented reality, projection mapping, kinetic sculptures, sound and light performances, and opportunities for audience participation during the Nov.14th event."

One of the participating artists is Harrell Fletcher, who was a visiting professor at Oregon State while I was getting my BFA there.  He is an internationally known pioneer of social art, someone who truly makes a difference.  I am gratified to see that the AIR program has grown into something that can involve artists of this stature. I can't wait to see what he and the others come up with for this event.

November 14, 4pm-11pm, artist reception 6pm with current and past AIR's (I'll be there).  More details here, along with directions and a link to buy tickets.  Kids under 12 are free, and the Lighthouse tower will be OPEN!  Bring a flashlight! 



Abstracted landscape, 19" x 25", mixed media on paper.

I wanted to let you all know that Cabrillo National Monument is having a huge art event on November 14 to showcase the Artist in Residence program.  There will be a reception the evening of the 14th, and as it happens, I will be in San Diego that weekend, so I will be there!  There will be several past and present AIR's, and the Monument will exhibit our work that is in their permanent collection.  (The past AIR's won't have anything offered for purchase at this event, but I do in fact have several Cabrillo paintings still available on my website.)  I'm extremely proud of the AIR program at Cabrillo, since I played a part in its inception and it has done great things for the Monument and for quite a few artists.  This year, there are four artists in residence there!  By the way, the 15th is "Open Tower Day" so if you've never gone up into the tower of the Old Lighthouse before, there's an opportunity!

The event on the 14th is called "Arts Afire" and will feature 40 artists throughout the park. I'll post more information as I get it.   If you'd like to see what work I  have available, I've updated and organized my website to make viewing easier.  Website:  kathrynlaw.com  and link for Cabrillo work is here. For more details about the making of all my Cabrillo paintings, click here to see everything tagged on the blog.



 4 x 7", monotype gouache

 5.5 x 8.5" watercolor, Stagecoach Rd off S2, Anza-Borrego desert.

 5.5 x 9.5" monotype, gouache and Neocolor

6 x 9" graphite

Two monotypes with the sketches that were their basis.



 Monkeypod Tree, Waikiki  9 X 12.5", sepia ink drawing on Hahnemuhle bamboo paper

I love Higgins Sepia Calligraphy ink.  Water soluble for making washes, and very potent.  Walnut ink has its own charm, but it is much weaker than this sepia ink.  Most of this was drawn with bamboo pens and then washes were created with a waterbrush and spray bottle.  There's a Twitter hashtag for #inktober, a challenge to draw something in ink every day for the month of October.  If you're on Twitter, you can check out the rest of what I've posted so far this month (@kathrynlaw) along with everyone else who has posted on that hashtag.  Mostly illustrators, comic artists and manga, but there is a little bit of fine art in the mix!


Hawaiian Birds in monotype

 These are Saffron Finches, lovely color notes in Hawaii.  All three of these are hand-pressed gouache monotypes, image size 7" X 5"

Northern Cardinal, and yes, they're here!  Not a lot of them, but fairly common.  Both these species were introduced.

 This little finch is a Chestnut Munia, originally from the Philippines.  They are not plentiful here, but a welcome addition. I've only seen one since we moved here. Their beaks really are blue. 


Walnut ink monotypes

Drawn from the model with a bamboo pen (in water-soluble walnut ink) on frosted mylar, then transferred onto soaked and blotted Johannot printmaking paper. Approx. 6" x 4"

Same as above, but the plate was heightened with gouache and printed onto toned Ingres drawing paper.  The paper adds its own element of texture, especially in hand-pressing. Approx. 5" x 4"


monotype, cont.

 There are myriad variables with each image--what medium to paint in, what paper to use... even differing degrees of dampness in that paper will determine how sharp the resolution is and how much color transfers.  This is on kitakata paper.  The background was printed first, the bird transferred from a second plate, then some details added with an ink brush.

This is a simple study of the outside surface of a pineapple, done in gouache and printed on drawing paper.  Monotype is known as the "painterly print."  Each impression is unique because most all the paint comes off with the first print, so they can't be duplicate-printed.  The main advantage is that the process allows the introduction of textures which can't be made any other way.  

Spoon and shadow, Neocolor II water-soluble crayon on frosted mylar, printed on Rives Lightweight printmaking paper.  Heavyweight papers are great if you have a press.  Working by hand, lighter-weight papers respond better to less pressure. 



I've been playing with hand-pressed monotypes, a process I've loved since art school.  It really changes things up.  I don't have a press, so these are pulled by hand.  The above plate was painted in watercolor, three layers, left to dry, then printed onto soaked and blotted Japanese kitakata paper. Image size 7" x 5"

This is a drawing in black Oilbar on the plate, printed onto toned drawing paper (which didn't like the punishment).  This will become a chine colle'.  Approx 4" X 6"

Mourning Doves.  On the right, the image was drawn subtractively using black Oilbar.  That image was the source for the plate on the right, painted in black gouache.  Both are on Johannot, and reveal interesting differences.  Textures and effects are possible in monotype that can't be achieved with any direct method. And pulling a print is like opening a present:  you never know what you'll get. 


Day at the Beach

 Pyramid Rock, on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kane'ohe. The storm surge was just starting, from the latest of many hurricanes this year.  Water-soluble graphite.


Leaving Las Vegas

 Hard Rock Hotel seen from my room, with a huge empty lot and remains of a foundation and parking lot in between.  Looking a little post-apocalyptic.

Mountains to the east.

This is a small sampling of what you will see at Valley of Fire State Park, about an hour northeast of Las Vegas.  A range of impossibly red rock formations have emerged from the desert thanks to eons of erosion.  The color is astonishing, and the rock is carved by the wind and blowing sand into fantastical shapes.  Nature creating her own version of a Gaudy Hellscape.


More Vegas

One writer documenting DefCon referred to Las Vegas as a "gaudy hellscape", which I think is the most perfect description ever and not in a bad way.  The artificial colors everywhere heighten awareness of all the natural colors too (and the desert heat can certainly conjure up an inferno).  This fairly ordinary scene behind the Tuscany Hotel is enlivened by the amazing colors of the buildings, and by my near-delirium due to the 110-degree temperatures.

Bally's Hotel, site of DefCon.

One of the (fairly normal-colored) hotels where we stayed.



A ten-day trip to Las Vegas last month produced some new little watercolor sketches, plein air.  Hotter than blazes, the paint dried almost before it hit the paper.  The colors are amazing in the thin desert air.

 Industrial park, south Las Vegas.  Red Rock Canyon in the distance.

Mandalay and Luxor hotel/casinos.  

Palms with bright red seed pods.

Looking down from the hotel room.



Hawaii is home to many species of birds, but not all of them started out here.  Residents now, but at one point, alien invaders.   All below are watercolor, all painted from life.

 Red-Vented Bulbul.  These, along with Mynahs, are the most plentiful birds on the island.  Not so welcome.  Considered invasive, injurious to native species and plants.  Native to Asia, illegally introduced on Oahu in the 1950's.  They are *everywhere*.  The other islands either don't have them, or only a few (so far).

The Common Myna(h), also an Asian import, is so ubiquitous that many people don't know they didn't originate here.  Believed to pair for life, they are extremely prolific and displace other birds, even robbing nests.  Mynahs are related to starlings, and their huge gatherings generate quite a lot of noise.  They are funny and endearing to watch, though, so it's hard not to love them.  We don't have crows here, and I miss them.

NOT an alien.  The Pacific Golden Plover, also quite numerous, is a welcome migratory species.  Breeding season is spent in northern Alaska, then they winter in Asia, Hawaii, even Southern California. They are seen everywhere here in the fall and winter, even on grassy areas in very urban environments.  This one was fast-moving, the painting was done quickly with no drawing.


sketching Hawaii

The Ko'olau mountains usually are engulfed in clouds, which makes the sunrise beautiful.
Below, the hills much closer to our apartment are remnants of a small volcanic crater (unlike the enormous volcano that resulted in the Ko'olaus).


more from the sketchbook

In January, we sold our boat after living aboard for a year, and in April, we moved to Hawaii.  In the months before the move, I biked around to familiar places in San Diego and did little sketches.  Sort of saying goodbye. 

This is the first one I did after we got to Hawaii.  We're definitely not in Kansas any more!


pages from the sketchbook

I made a pocket-size sketchbook using Hahnemuhle Ingres drawing paper, which has become a favorite support for watercolor as well.  Some of those works in the last post are also on that paper.  This tiny sketchbook went with me everywhere while we were preparing to move away from San Diego, and I did a bunch of these little studies, a couple of them out on the Point not far from Cabrillo.  I'll post a few more tomorrow.


East County watercolors

These are small watercolors I did east of San Diego, from a few months back.  Top one is 6 X 9, lower one is 4 X 7. I'll post a few more soon, and talk about where I am and what I'm doing now.  


East County sketches

All about 5 x 7", plein air sketches