Sketching at the Hermitage, March 15th, 2018

There was an impressive celebration at the Hermitage on March 15th, 2018.  It was the 251st birthday celebration for General and President Andrew Jackson. I had taken some vacation time to attend, and it was a perfect day.  Conditions were 66 degrees, sunny, with some wind.

I took time to tour the inside of the mansion while the “First Ladies at the Mansion” presentation put on by members of the American Historical Theatre was going on outside.  By going then, I was able to be in a quiet space, before the schoolchildren went inside.

The mansion is currently undergoing efforts to put in a new fire suppression system, so the rooms don’t have everything in them that they normally do.

I have previously asked several different employees about sketching inside the mansion, since photography is strictly forbidden. Nobody has said that I couldn’t.  I didn’t have an opportunity to ask again since the docent was busy, so I began sketching in the small lobby that connects the overseer’s office and the study.  I also sketched upstairs during the lecture, and took notes since the history of the place and family is fascinating.  The docent noticed me and asked what I was doing.  I showed her the sketch. She was pleased and continued with her speech.

I sketched this with a pen instead of my usual watercolor pencils to be less obtrusive.

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Then I was fortunate to catch the end of the “First Ladies” presentation, and began to sketch there.

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The initial sketch of the “First Ladies” – (this one is Abigail Adams) and the wreath-laying ceremony are on the same page. This is before I have added more color and water.

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I thought I was late to the wreath-laying ceremony, but I ended up being in a perfect place to sketch.  The audience was on the other side of the fence, in the cow pasture.  (There is a herd of Banded – or Belted- Galloways here, by the way.)  I was able to stand in front of the fence, at the corner, out of the way but with a fantastic view of the National Guardsmen. It was at this point that I regretted not bringing the navy blue I’d spotted last night. I can only carry 12 colors, so I will always have to adapt. Too many colors can be too much to juggle on site.

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I also went around the fence, and sitting down on the grass, got to sketch the speakers.  The person speaking is Justice Cornelia Clark of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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Initial sketch –

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Finished –

The National Anthem was played, and I sang along.  About a third of the way through I remembered to put my hand over my heart and take my hat off.  I think it would be lovely to have more opportunities to sing the National Anthem so these important parts of it aren’t forgotten.

After the ceremony, a person in the National Guard gestured for me to come over – asking with gestures if I was sketching.  I briefly thought he was signing, so I started to reply in ASL, since I have just spent 8 weeks learning some of it.  I finally got over to where they were and we chatted a bit about sketching and the day and signing. That is part of the interesting part of sketching – you get to meet new people.  I told them I will post the finished work on my blog and gave him my card.

So here it is –

The guard told me that a photographer snapped a photo of my sketch over my shoulder, which is kind of cool and kind of intrusive at the same time. I’m happy that people think my sketching is interesting, but it seems rude to not ask to see what I am doing, and surreptitiously snap a photo.

There were also presentations about the life of a soldier in 1812. I got to see Meyers Brown, who is helping at my library with preserving the antique photos of Old Hickory. He was in full militia regalia.

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There were people in costume, including General Jackson and his wife Rachel.

I knew I would not have time to sketch them, and that it would draw a crowd.  I like to sketch privately so I don’t become self-conscious.  Nothing ruins a sketch for me than having someone look on.

And there was Irish music (since General Jackson was the son of Irish immigrants) performed by Brian Finnegan and Joseph Carmichael of Music City Irish Fest.  It was excellent.

Events went on until 4, but I had to be at work at 1. All in all, a lovely morning!

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Weekly sketch 3-2-18, Cheekwood

Cheekwood Botanical Garden, Friday 3-2-18, 1-2:30 pm. 56 degrees and sunny.

A brave day, I drove here by myself.  I didn’t let the monsters in my head win.  This is part of why I bought a membership here – to encourage me to go sketch.

This is the “Ruins” section – there are fragments of the original columns from the Tennessee Capital building, which was finished in 1854.  The limestone columns didn’t endure the weather and started to decay.  They were salvaged and brought here, to create a sort of small amphitheater.

(My scanner make the colors unusually bright and vivid)

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And an unusual view of the Japanese section –

Photo of sketch-

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Too many journals?

I have a journal problem. I can’t pass a new one up, even though I have a lot of them already. They are all different sizes and shapes. And these are just the empty ones!

Here is a list of the ones I’m in the middle of. I have only recently come to accept this part of my creative process and not fight it.

 

The big Strathmore one where I paint and glue.

One where I am rewriting the Psalms.

A book where I color and reflect upon the Psalms.

“Color your life” coloring and journaling.

A small magazine collage.

A large magazine collage.

A daily one with meditations, observations, stories, and art and ephemera.

Paper vintage ephemera collage.

One for testing new art supplies and the bison series.

A small leather book (handmade) with meditations on the oneness of God.

A biography of myself using stamps as the illustration / reminders / triggers.

A book where I put in my history and illustrated with printed pictures.

A small journal that I take to church to take notes.

A journal just for writing in with nothing else – no art.  It has meditations and observations on my life trying to figure out how to make things work better.

A dream journal.

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That is a lot of journals!

I use them in different ways, putting different things in them – different materials, different ideas. Some are open to the world, some are more private.

Having multiple journals going at once means that I can work on whatever I want when I want instead of having to feel stuck with one project at a time.

However, I do sometimes feel that I never get anything done, that I have too many “open tickets” to borrow a term from my husband’s work. When this happens I then look at what journals I’m closest to finishing and focus on them.

But it isn’t long before I will start another one!

Sometimes I think I have too many journals, and then I think of hermit crabs, who have to have several different shells to choose from when it is time for them to trade shells. My journals are my shells, where I put myself.

Here are some I have finished that were made with a theme. There are plenty others that are just daily writing or observations.

These include one where I wrote out my favorite verses from the Psalms (on paper I first gessoed and inked); one about the eclipse 8/21/17; a longitudinal study of a maple tree in autumn, and a tiny one that has pictures and words from magazines.

The story of my heart

This is a mini art journal that I created, using a 5.5 x 3.5 inch notebook from Archie McPhee as the base. I got it from American Science and Surplus as a three-pack, on sale. The notebook said “people to avoid” on the outside.

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All of this took about a week, because of the many layers that had to completely dry.

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I pulled out several sections from the middle of the book to give me enough room to add what I wanted to add. I find this step critical to producing a final piece that is flat-ish.

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I worked on this as a complete unit – not page by page, but I’d do each part of the process to the whole book.

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I used gesso to prime the pages.

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I added various washi tape to the edges, mostly where the pages had started to come apart from the gesso. It had made the pages stick to each other and I’d had to pull them apart.

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Then I added swipes of “Distress Ink” mini stamp pads to the pages, pressing them together and then opening them back up to create a transfer. Getting this to dry without permanently sticking the pages together was a real bear. I had to keep checking on it. I suspect I should have painted each page separately instead of doing the entire thing at once, but that would have taken a lot longer.

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I pulled out my used copy of “Mysticism” by F.C. Happold and pulled out some random pages. I used the mini stamp pads to color them.

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Once dry, I randomly tore the pages into smaller pieces. Only when that was done did I look at the words on the pages to choose which ones would be in the book. This is how the title of the mini journal came about – it was on the section I’d randomly chosen for the first page.

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I then selected various brown and sepia stamps to add.

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I added every Chinese fortune cookie message I had that had a “Learn Chinese” message on it. This tiny art journal is a mini Chinese dictionary.

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I used brown ink to color the cover, added more stamps and stickers, and then sealed with with contact paper once dry.

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Spring bottles

This is an art-journal page I made recently.  Because of the spiral in the journal, some of the image isn’t flat on the scanner, resulting in a lack of sharpness.

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(detail)

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“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one who is without faith, no explanation is possible.” – Thomas Aquinas

but it is really

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” – Thomas Aquinas

Someone on a Facebook page said that it is really from St. Ignatius of Loyola – that there is a bronze bust of St. Ignatius at the Casa Dom Inacio in Brazil with this quote on it. However, all the indications online say it is from Aquinas.

 

Mixed-media art journal (Strathmore).  Watercolor pencils.  Distress ink pads. English stamps.  Distress ink.  White pen.  Skeleton leaf.