Thursday, January 31, 2013

More Garden Songbirds

As I've posted previously, I am enjoying creating mixed media collage paintings lately. Since re-organizing my studio last June, I had planned to spend the winter months creating collages to use as backgrounds for paintings or prints. I have more paper of all types and ephemera than I will ever be able to use up!

While working on the Garden Songbird Series, I kept coming up with different papers and colors to try. Here are two sets I've just completed.

With these, I began adding old loan payment stubs which are stamped with the date the payment was made. I found these among the papers my grandmother saved. I'm not sure what the loan was for, but it was paid off between 1977 and 1979. It looks like she made weekly payments. She probably made weekly trips to the bank to deposit her paycheck and made a payment on the loan while she was there. Since each date is unique, I have decided to use them to name each mixed media painting. Also added to these collage paintings are handwritten notes of many types which I retrieved from the recycling basket over the years. These include computer programming homework dating back to 1997 when my husband returned to school to study that. Also included are calligraphy practice done by my daughter and music notes from when my son took bass guitar lessons. I have also added pieces of the many to-do lists and other notes I write on pieces of scrap paper. These may be obscured under the colored tissue paper or the paint applied on top, but I know they are there. Working with these pieces of family history, I am connected to my family, even when they are not physically with me. 

These six mixed media collage paintings are available at my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Researching Shakespeare's Flowers

I enjoyed creating the Foxgloves mixed media paintings and would like to create a series of different flowers with a common theme. At first I was thinking that foxgloves fit into a cottage garden theme. Thinking about it further, I wondered if foxgloves were mentioned by William Shakespeare in any of his writings. A theme of plants mentioned in the works of Shakespeare would be timely as my town of Stratford, CT will be hosting the Stratford Sister Cities 2014 Reunion. Work is ongoing to renovate the Shakespeare  Festival Theater.

Doing some research I found that foxgloves are among the over 150 plants mentioned by Shakespeare, though I could not find the literary reference. I will continue to look through available sources for listings of both plants and where they are quoted. If I give myself a timeline of creating one painting a month until August 2014, which is when the reunion will occur I believe, I will have 20 works. That will be a nice body of work to have and display.

Introducing My Newest Blog

If you are interested in flowers and gardens and would like to learn more about me, then please take a look at my newest blog:

I believe you will like it very much.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Garden Songbirds Mixed Media Collage Paintings

Enjoying the process of creating the mixed media collage paintings of the foxgloves as well as the finished product, I decided to use this technique again for some small bird images.

Beginning with pages cut from old books on birding, assorted ledger papers, snippets of decorative paper and hand written notes, these were glued to matboard.

Next I applied torn pieces of assorted Asian fiber papers. On top of that I added line drawings of garden songbirds. The first two came from the drawing it did for Birdsong and two other monoprints. I have also used this drawing for the title page in a visual journal. Wanting to make this a trio, I added the finch-like bird. I was originally going to paint the birds brown, but decided to make it more spring-like so used a robin's egg blue acrylic paint.

Garden Songbirds I

Garden Songbirds II

Garden Songbirds III
I am happy to say that this set of three has found a new home.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Green, My Favorite Color

This morning on the Health and Well Being report on CBS 880 Radio, it was stated that spending time outdoors is good for your spirit and that exercising outside, such as walking, is better for your mental health than using a treadmill. The report also said that the color green is the "in" color this year. That makes me happy because green has been my favorite color since I was a young teenager. Thinking about this I was reminded of a poem I wrote at that age. Here it is:

Beauty Is
Beauty is the plants in my room.
With their glorious shades of green,
they bring color to my otherwise
dull windowsills.
Susan Franz (c) 1977

I was also reminded of a collaborative journal I created with a friend who lives in Portland, Oregon in 2004. I wrote this poem in it along with a section on my love for the color green.  I would like to share that.

"Sunlight through the leaves of the hops plants and through the canopy of oak leaves reveals several shades of green at once.

How can this image best be captured? Photograph? Painting? Words? All of these I try."

"Green has been my favorite color for as long as I can remember. When I was sixteen I wrote this poem:  (see poem above)

Green has a calming effect and I am a calm, quiet, peaceful person most of the time. I do like to play music loudly on occasion, just as I like a splash of orange and yellow in my gardens."

 Garden photos

 "As much as I love flowers of all kinds, I'd take the greens in all their varied shades and hues. I love my vegetable garden precisely for this reason. The deep rich green of rhubarb leaves growing alongside the wispy yellow green of asparagus and the bluish green blades of garlic. Lovage, tomatoes, chives, green beans, dill, strawberries and snap peas fill the garden beds with months of non stop color.

While every season brings its flowers of pure delight, it is the color of leaves that sustains me, just as the chlorophyll sustains them. The grasses, privet, Rosa rugosa, honeysuckle, bittersweet, rhododendron, violets, hostas, daylilies, birches and so much           more provide layer upon layer of light and shadow, texture and color."

"The long, dull brown and grey winter months are soon forgotten as the first tender leaves of spring emerge to be followed by the full chorus of beautiful greens.

Please do not misunderstand me. I absolutely adore flowers and have much praise for them, but just as an arrangement of flowers in a vase needs a filler of green to make them stand out, the landscape needs green as its back drop. If green were taken out of the picture, it would lack harmony.

So this is the foundation of my garden and the beginning of my journal..."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Foxgloves - Latest Work

About a month ago I began a series of three mixed media paintings. The subject is foxgloves, the wonderfully old-fashioned English cottage flower equally at home in the perennial border or herb garden.  Working from a sketch and photographs and using some favorite materials, this is what I created.

 I began by making a collage of old book pages, ledger paper and hand written notes. 

Over these papers I glued hand colored archival tissue papers.

Did the base drawing.
Added gouache on top of the drawing, more colored pencils, final fixative, two coats of matte acrylic varnish.

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