Archive for Art

Chardin and Stillness

Chardin‘s only child committed suicide.  The great still life painter had lavished a classical artistic education on his son,  (Chardin hadn’t received such an education himself, but had longed for it).  The boy had tried, struggled not very diligently, started many paintings, finished few, and at the age of 41 threw himself into a canal in Venice.  Chardin was 72.

So there’s a horrofic irony in the still lifes that Chardin had spent his whole life painting.  Arranged in softly arresting forms; pots, pitchers, fruit, and more often than not, dead game or fish; a rabbit, or a bird, draped carelessly among the mix or hung from a wall.  Recently killed, an opaque eye or a limp paw unsettles the otherwise peaceful scene. 

 Chardin’s paintings give new meaning to the gently oxymoronic term “still life”.  The objects are excessively still, the game completely lifeless, the painted scene could only be in a room where no people are or have been within the hour; that solemn limbo time between the morning hunt and preparations for the midday meal; after death but before the participation in life.  Chardin captured it unerringly time and time again.

And those seven years after his son had died and he lived on?  I’ve wondered a little, vaguely, and not until now giving the question a form, whether those years were those still lifes, taking the form of his own . . .

Easy Etched Window Edge

 We’re etching the edges of the windows all over the house with our personal symbols. A dragonfly is mine, befitting a slightly over energized person. Paige with the vibrant personality has the butterfly. And Ryan, a summery sort of guy with regular sparks of enthusiasm has the firefly.

Etching is easy! But beware the flashing neon danger lights ahead.
Step 1: Clean the glass. Position the stencil. This is a special blue stencil for etching. Available at crafts stores; Michaels or Hobby Lobby. (A custom stencil can be made, too, but that’ll be for a future blog.)

Tape stencilStep 2: Tape stencil, blue side down with masking tape or even packing tape (anything sticky washes off)

Step 3. Use a popsicle stick and firmly rub all over. The stencil lightens as blue film adheres to the glass.

Popsicle stick
Step 4: Remove the tape and the clear top sheet. Toss. (No, not with joy – you’re not done yet.) Toss in the garbage. Retape the edges.

Step 5: Here it is. Flashing neon danger sign. The manufacturer declines any liability which means if you don’t don a space suit and seal yourself in a bubble you’ll be permanently disfigured, more than likely blind, and forget about having children.

It’s not that bad. Just remember to wear gloves and goggles, be near a water source and a phone (Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222), and prepare a container of egg whites (in case someone swallows it).

Step 6: Now that we’re comfortable, let’s begin. We used Armour Etch Glass Etching Cream. It’s thick so we can do vertically placed windows and it won’t slide off (much). Spread it all over the stencil with a brush thickly. Whatever glass the cream comes in contact with will be etched so stay inside the borders.

Spreading cream - not edible!

Step 7: Wait one minute and wash off etching cream wtih lots of water. The stencil and tape will come up, too. Clean it all with a glass cleaner.
Dragonfly

Blurry dragonfly picture
There! The camera had trouble with this.  I took about 30 pictures but it still looks a little blurry from here.  The real life version isn’t.   Now we get to do all the other windows!  Each one will get a different styled etched insect (like we don’t have enough in this house in the woods already!) And then there’s mirrors.   Haven’t decided what to etch on those yet . . .

We really like details.  They can be so charming. 

Rusty Rear Retreat

Here we go again, making something older and better. Lots of things are like that; cheese (sometimes), certain wine, and women.
And yes, the above paragraph was written with false bravado after
finding a grey hair. Ok, three. Older. Better. You bet.
We took the wooden back door and bathed it in a patina of . . . rust. For all anybody would know, it’s about to crumble into metallic flakes of decaying tetanus riddled iron. Just what we wanted. Really (Cross my heart and hope to die. Of old age.) We tried three different painting techniques before we settled on this one.
Recipe to Riddle the Rear Door with Rust
1. Paint it black. Two coats, of course.
2. Assemble rusting ingredients. We did it from a kit from Michael‘s this first time, but it’s not necessary. All the ingredients are readily available. Use acrylic craft paint.
rusting ingredients

3. Dip a sponge in brown paint and pat all over.
Patting all over

4.Dip sponge in sand.SandYou won’t need this much. Pat alternately in brown paint and sand, dabbing randomly.5. Damp sponge and dip in yellow paint and pat randomly.Pat6. Put 1Tbsp of dark red paint with 3 Tbsp. water in a little spray bottle. Shake well and spray. Pat the drips with a sponge.
7. Do the same with very dark brown paint.
Spray 8. Done. The result is gritty. Forget scrubbing to clean it. Just use one of those feather dusters.And done!This recipe is straight from Freebird’s blog.
DEATH by Chocolate (is there any better way to die?)
Ingredients: 1 devils food cake mix, prepared and cooled
1 can Hershey syrup
1 (10 oz) Cool Whip
2 packages instant chocolate pudding prepared accordingly
5 Skor or Heath candy bars (or favorite candy), chopped.
Bake cake. Poke holes in cake. Pour Hershey syrup all over the cake. Pour chocolate pudding on top. Spread cool whip over the top of the pudding. Sprinkle with your choice of candy. Cool. Eat. A lot.
Easy Chocolate Frosting
Ingredients: 6 T. oleo 1 1/2 C sugar 6 T milk 1/2 C choc chips Directions: Bring oleo, milk and sugar to rolling boil. Boil 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in choc. chips. Stir until melted. Pour over cake.
 Brought to you by your friendly and fatter neighborhood decorator at www.glintlit.com

2007 Treasures To Be

So many things planned for 2007. We’ll be introducing, all hail with flashing marquee lights . . . etched glassware, paper mache bowls, boxes, even wastepaper baskets glinted and bewired (this is not your kids paper mache) (unless they’re paper mache prodigies who want to work for us!) and a whole new Glintlit subdivision, Glintlit Publications; handmade greeting cards, more bookmarks and books, and if it works out (we’ll know by summer, designing and testing the prototype now) a Glintlit planner.

I personally will be adding a gallery of my cozy little snake paintings, an obsession that’s slithering it’s way onto the canvas.

AND new blogs are in the works on our adventures in nutrition, literary retreats and current cultural events in Cincinnati!

2007 is dawning soon, tomorrow!, in iridescent shades, streaked, striped, and shimmering with promise.  We’re looking forward to it all with an irritating complacency . . .

The above Resolutions and Reflections brought to you by www.glintlit.com

Save the Cow Shoe Shelf

Shelf for shoes – leatherized and burnished with red-gold metallic leaf.

We’re still in the kitchen. It’s where we keep shoes, near the back door, where we put them on.It propitiates our natural (and well-developped) sense of laziness.

PART ONE: Leatherizing

Step 1: Find an old bookshelf. Dents are good. Have you ever met a perfect cow? (No mother-in-law jokes permitted).

Paint the whole thing burgundy. Let it dry.

The inside of two shelves are already completely “leatherized” in this picture.
Half-leatherized
Step 2: Paint a large section brown.

Step 3: Immediately (before it dries) take a plastic bag, crumple it, press it into wet paint and pull it off. Voila! the rich textured look of leather without the misty image of sad cow eyes keeping one awake at night.

Pulling it off
PART 2: Burnishing. I must have been a crow in another life. If it gleams or sparkles, I want it. When in doubt, add glint. It’s our motto. For the house. For the business. For life. (A sure sign that a person finds life amusing is the simple adornment of a glint in the eye.)

Step1: Brush on a thin coat of metallic leaf adhesive.

Step 2: Wait an hour. This lets it become tacky. And it stays tacky for 12 hours. So . . . if you run out of metallic leaf and have to go get some more and while you’re out, you stop at the grocery, go to a girl scout meeting, take your afternoon yoga class, attend a Cirque du Soleil performance (where you contemplate the surreal aspects of your life), get a flat tire (thus erasing the destressing benefits of your yoga class), you still might get back in time to finish burnishing.

Step 3: Apply metallic leaf. It comes in lots of colors; gold, silver, copper, variegated red, variegated green. It’s pretty stuff. I, uh, IT also comes in flake form. We used variegated red leaf for this project. We burnished all the edges of the shelf.Burnishing

Step 4: Brush off the excess leaf with a soft brush. Gently. This creates a small shower of tiny red gold flakes. Magic in motion.

Step 5: Seal it. The sealer can be brushed or sprayed on. Let it dry. Do this 10 times. Metallic leaf is fragile. The more coats of sealant the better.Burnished.

Step 6: Place shoe boxes in starting position. We keep shoes in photo boxes. They’re prettier.
Boxed.

Step 7: Don a too cute pair of shoes and step OUT!

 This fun thing to do brought to you by www.glintlit.com

Georgia O’Keefe as an American Icon

Georgia O’Keefe has become a mythical figure; a solitary woman ensconced in the landscape of New Mexico.  As a young woman she “saw” another woman’s husband, eventually married him, and later still, experienced the emotional turmoil of his philandering.   Through her work it was obvious she identified with her femininity to an almost overwhelming degree.  But it was femininity with a core of iron.  Her features were strongly beautiful, an integral face, and she lived in a starkly lovely New Mexico with what amounted to an adoration of the land.

Last year, in September, I was lucky enough to be able to see a lot of her work in one place at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe. I left proud of being female and American.  She represents, and thus transcends, us all.   Emotionally fragile beneath a veneer of reserve,  tough as cactus spines when it mattered, content in her solitude . . . I understand all that.  I think many women do who’ve weathered marriages, moral collapse, and time, and emerge with a clearer of picture of themselves.  Georgia O’Keefe was all that we are, expanded it onto her canvas, and like the perceptual scale of her paintings, became bigger than life.

Cave Art and the Modern Girl Scout

This weekend was spent making like a snake at Bluesprings Cavern Park in Indiana, slithering in and out of passageways sometimes knee and elbow deep in water, crawling commando style over over rubble rock, or crouched in a room with a low-hanging roof and hearing the surprisingly comforting drip drip of a leaky faucet that wasn’t a leaky faucet but instead water filtrating from the surface a hundred feet above us.  The Girl Scouts and attached adults such as myself ended up tired, dirty and wet, but highly exhilirated.  Changing into dry clothes we spent the night in a large hollow area above a subterranean waterfall, startled a bat hibernating just over our sleeping heads, and came out into the morning sun a little surprised to find the sky so far above us.

The experience has filled my head with a new appreciation for the cave art found all over the world.  (There was none at Bluesprings unless you count nature’s intricate carvings of it’s own natural materials).  Ten thousand years ago, people blew soot around their hands, hundreds of them, and left a highly personal mark.  Kilroy was here; the first Kilroy, long before anyone could write Kilroy, maybe not much longer after human beings learned to communicate by speech, calling each other by names.  Surely these early artists had names.  Naming appears early, often first in our mythologies, and from there a desire to leave that name, to leave a mark.

Sharks. Jets. Mary loves Joe.  This room was funded by a generous donation from Mr. and Mrs. William Smith.  I am Kilroy. I was here.

And here I am, ten thousand years later, blowing ash around my hand to leave a mark.  My name is Denise Thea.  My cave wall is cyberspace.

Decadent Decoupaged Cabinetry

Step 1 (optional) – We unscrewed the cabinet door from the frame – and the knobs from the cabinet door – just to make the decoupage easier. This isn’t necessary – just easier. Unless you’re allergic to screwdrivers.
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Step 2: Clean it, of course, and spray paint the whole thing. We used white, although the camera insists it’s ivory.

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Step 3: Choose what papers you want to use. We’re using black and white tissue papers (some with silent film pictures on it) and a favorite chocolate cake recipe. Yes, this is a dangerous thing to do if you like cake.

Decoupage is fabulous. You can decoupage ANYTHING even vaguely like paper; handmade papers, tissue papers (which gets translucent, very cool effect), scrapbook paper, magazine and newspaper clippings, photographs, your kids report cards, fall leaves, dried flowers (flat ones), love letters, coupons, subpoenas . . .

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Step 4: Spread the decoupage over the surface. Place a paper down and smooth it until the wrinkles are out. You should use a brayer (which is like a little rolling pin), but if you’re thorough and patient your fingers will work.
When all the paper is down, slather decoupage all over the top. Let it dry several hours. Do it again. And again. Ten times, in fact. This is the KITCHEN.  It gets rough in the kitchen and the more decoupage layers that goes on, the better it’s protected – but when you DO put lots of coats on, you’ll be amazed how nice it still looks ten years from now. (Yes, we know this from experience. Decoupaging forever!).
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting(The glare in the middle is from the camera’s flash. Grrr.)

Step 5: Spray or brush on a polyurethane sealant. Screw on the knobs. Done!

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Here it is in detail. More suggestive than intended (‘suggestive’ wasn’t intended at ALL) but you know what they say about chocolate.

Now we get to do 14 more cabinet doors.  We’re doing a chocolate cake theme. One fabulous recipe per cabinet door.

FLUFFY FATTENING CHOCOLATE CAKE

1/3 cup cocoa ,  1/2 cup boiling water,   2/3 cup shortening 1 3/4 cups sugar,  1 tsp. vanilla extract,  2 eggs2 1/4 cups cake flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt1/3 cup buttermilkHeat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch pans. In a small bowl, stir together cocoa and water until smotth; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat shortening, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour baking soda and salt; add to shortening mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in cocoa mixture; beat well.

Pour batter into pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove pans to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting – 6 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened, 2 2/3 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/3 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract. In a small bowl, beat butter. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk; beat to spreading consistency (more milk will probably be needed). Blend in vanilla. Spread on cake.
Now here’s the clincher. Eat ONE piece. And good luck.

This creative quirk was brought to you by . . . www.glintlit.com

Piranesi’s Utopia OR The Grandfather of Surrealism Etches a Brave Old World

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (the Italians have such musical names!) labored his whole life to build a new Rome upon and among the stones of the old Rome.  The concept for the most part stayed on paper but . . .

Piranesi was an architectural artist, born near Venice in 1720 (nothing much seemed to be happening that year), but by the time he died in 1778 (the American Revolution was in full swing) he had helped usher in Neoclassicism.  That may sound a little dull but it meant he was a catalyst for a visionary new world.  His grand dreams pretty much fell on deaf ears, but in the wake of his attempt he left us with the most amazing etchings and a new way of thinking. 

Those etchings did, in effect, change the world, not so much how people lived but how people saw, felt, and even dreamed.  They were the stepping stones to new imaginative heights.  His prison staircases prefigured Escher’s staircases .  He served as an impetus for Surrealistic movement.  He presented strange perspectives of renewed ruins and passive “modern”  figures peopling the debris of the ancient Roman world.  His series on prisons, subterranean caverns with endless stairways and enormous arches, are the most famous, but my personal favorite is “The Ancient Intersection of Via Appea and Via Ardeatina”.  It looks as if the antiquities section of the world’s museums had been raided and the booty piled one on top the other to tower over the streets.  A grand history left to decay as tiny people gape and point and go about their daily lives.  In Piranesi’s time, anyone wandering around Italy would have seen isolated instances of this; the rocks of ancient civilization left to the vines and moss.  We have virtuously sterilized what we can in museums to protect it all, but Piranesi has embedded the romance of it in our consciousness (even if we’ve never laid eyes on his etchings before) because surrealism took his fantasies and sprouted them with new distorted dreams.   Marc Chagall, Man Ray, Max Ernest,  Yves Tanguy, Rene Magritte, and Salvador Dali, all owe a debt to Piranesi for opening the collective unconscious to the surreal.

People who spend their lives to fulfill a vision of a better world are fascinating.  Whether those strivings are actually reached isn’t as important as the fact that portions of humanity are capable of thinking far bigger than themselves.  And I’ve come to believe that the expense of human energy is never left unrewarded.  If, as so often happens, the world precludes the vision from becoming envisioned, the effort itself leaves resonances that change the world.  Sometimes even beyond that imagined in the initial dream.   

As it turned out, Piranesi’s dream to change the world’s architecture was far too small.  Instead he changed the world’s mind. 

The Imaginary Kitchen Fireplace

 


We’re going to show off an old project. This is the “fireplace” we tiled behind the stove. Mirrored diamond-shaped bits of glass in red and gold from an after Christmas sale are the flames. Bits of broken plates in shades of brown are the logs. The arch is made of broken plates in ivory and green. We grouted it all in a cinnamon brown and left it rough, liking the rustic look.
If you’ve never broken a plate on purpose, we highly recommend it. Gosh darn fun. Imagine it’s your mother-in-law or an ex-somebody-or-other (although my ex is great) or the neighbor next door who keeps complaining about you breaking plates . . .

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