Monday, May 31, 2010

Horses of a Different Color by Elise Cheval

Click on the photo and go to Picassa Web Albums to see my most recent artworks of horses in various media.

Watercolor Painting of Horses

"American Indian Ponies", watercolor painting, 28" x 30"

I've resumed painting with watercolors. One of the best ways to work is to wet the entire sheet of paper (Arches coldpress), then lay it flat on a piece of plexiglass, and paint until the paper is dry. I have a spray bottle near by if the painting is getting too dry. I love the variety of wet to dry techniques that are possible when working in this manner.

Early Morning Skies

When you wake up at 5:15 Am, what do you do? How do you fall back asleep? I grab my camera and shoot pictures of the sky outside my window from my deck which overlooks the hills of Marin. I am noticing that the sky is red for just a few moments, like it is at sunset just before the sun goes down.

"K" for Kindness

My bi-weekly word project is up to the letter "K". "K" for kindness. A word related to art isn't coming to me.

Summer is just around the corner, with St. John'swort full of buds. Soon, yellow flowers with their mane full of star-like flowers will burst forth on June 21. Then, a few days later, I'll be singing with Contempory Opera Marin at St. Hillary's Church during the Tiburon Music Festival. The longest day will have come, and winter will be fast approaching. Unusual weather patterns this year, due to El Nino, have resulted in a lot of moisture in the air and magnificent cloud forms. I've been clicking away with my Sony digital camera. Here are a few treasures to feast your eyes on.

Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade

Balloons, Banners and Flags - OH, MY! On my way to my painting studio today, I happened upon some heavy traffic in Mill Valley. Hoards of people were waiting along the road for the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade to commence. Instead of going to my studio to paint, I parked the car, walked down to the main hub and took a lot of pictures of people and their dogs, floats and cars and trucks decorated with balloons. In preparation for the Life Painting class next semester, I am really getting excited about photographing crowds of people. My teacher, Chester Arnold, shared his technique for painting crowds of people, using a presscloth to transfer his finger impressions, which beautifully serves as the heads of people, onto the canvas. He likes to paint prisoners with various perspectives. Today, I discovered that I love parades! People are great when they are doing something for others! I want to express that aspect of humanity on my canvas. Life is good.


Personal Creativity Workshop at O'Hanlon Center for the Arts

Cayan Robertson's workshop last Saturday was a lot of fun. We started with looking at books by my favorite colorist, Joseph Itten, and the exhibit book of the Amish Quilts shown at the De Young Museum recently. Cayan gave each of us a few pieces of paper, and with Cray-Pas, we were asked to fill the page with our favorite colors, building off of Itten's exercises in his book. Cayan took the exercise one step further and asked us to fill the second page with colors we didn't like, even hate. I tried with all my might to find combinations of color that looked putrid and ugly, but in the end, my "ugly" drawing was more interesting and beautiful than the one with my favorite colors. Several others had a similar experience. We talked about why this might be. I thought it was because I used more tones and values in my "ugly" painting, drawing on what I learned in Katrina Wagner's color theory class at the College of Marin. I'll let you be the judge of what appeals to you more.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Steel armature complete for cassette tape landscape

Ventana Amico and Elise Cheval Standing with
Steel Armature for Cassette Tape Landscape
Hi All,
Many of you have heard me talking about my opera project for a year now! Much to tell about this project. Here is a picture of my friend and colleague, Ventana Amico, with her sculpture made out of steel. Imagine several of these filled with audiocassette tapes in the manufactured landscape that will provide the stage set for Pele dressed in her videotape dress. Stay tuned as a giant octopus, made out of packing materials, emerges from the depths of my creativity.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quilt Transformed into Community Art Project - "The Wishing Wall"

The quilt took a whole new turn on Friday morning, the day of "Whitsun", when the Holy Spirit comes to the Earth! After I heard the little voice in my head say, " you are creating "The Wishing Wall", I ran into my foyer and stripped the pieces from the wall. I found a basket to hold them, gathered up all of the pushpins I could find and quickly typed up the Score sheet seen above. At school, I pinned the "seed" origami piece with the Score sheet and the monoprint that resulted from my exploration of monoprinting called "Ripples 2" to the wall. During the critique in my Fiber Art Sculpture Class, one student exclaimed, "I don't know if I'm looking at the ground or the sky." In the Land of Metaphor, monoprints folded into simple origami forms do resemble a field of "flowers" or a sky full of "stars." Another student said that she could see this as a large public installation project. Now, I am folding monoprints like crazy for a Community Project at the Falkirk Center for the Arts during the Re: Valued show in June - August, 2011.
Thank you Cayan Robertson for showing me how to create the conditions that encourage people to participate in artmaking.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Origami quilt made with monoprints is growing!

As I pin my folded monoprints to the wall in my foyer, I notice that the quilt is taking on a new life of its own. I wonder where this "block" will fit, and how to make the edges meet on forms that were created out of different sizes of paper. I think about how Nature does it. How each piece needs a space, and how each piece fills a space. I originally wanted to use as few pushpins as possible because I didn't want to make holes in my wall, but I realize that this "rule" is too constraining for what the piece wants to do and can do. My installation piece can't be forced into a contrived configuration because I don't want to put holes in the wall. It needs to BREATHE. I think about the freedom that the "Magic Wall" at O'Hanlon Center for the Arts offers me. I wonder, I ponder... on how to proceed. Then, I realize that I only need to keep making monoprints and all of them will find their way onto my "Magic Wall"!

Stay tuned as the quilt folds and unfolds, breathes and takes on new meaning.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Fwd: elisecheval sent you 'Horses by Elise Cheval' on PhotoPeach

Check out the video of my artworks created in 2010

J for Joy!

Today, I started a new word for my 2 week word cycle. J for Joy. J for Jesus.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Personal Creativity Workshop at O'Hanlon Center for the Arts

Day 3

Today, we arrived to find pieces of yellowed paper pinned to the Magic Wall. Cayan asked us to talk about what we saw in the paper, then we had fun with it and made 3D art. We gave a sound and a movement to our pieces. Then, we used egg cartons, cardboard boxes, and whatever else we wanted to work with to create artworks. I made a pair or earrings and a necklace out of the egg cartons, colored with red and purple chalk pastels. After returning from the restroom, I noticed a red netted vegetable bag hanging on the shelf where we store the children's tempera paints. I wore the red tube as a necklace through lunch, then played with in the mirror as a possible hat, until it dawned on me that it would make a lovely bracelet. Fashionined in the Spirit of Richard Tuttle's work, according to Cayan, I enjoyed the best of the unplanned and imperfect nature of Wabi-Sabi.

After everybody went home, I stayed longer and explored tempera paint and sumi ink on fingerpainting paper. Fingerpainting paper has a similar smooth surface as Hot Press watercolor paper.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Personal Creativity Workshop at O'Hanlon Center for the Arts

Day 2

Today, Cayan started us with photos again. She asked us to pair two photos together and paint a piece of paper of the same dimensions with a color that connected the two. I noticed that the "black and white" pictures had a green cast and used chalk pastels, luscious ones from France, to create a red earth/greyed green one. In our second exercise, we were asked to pair two photos together and to color two pieces of paper to integrate them. I chose photos of ducks on a lake and marble. I colored one piece of paper with aqua tones and the other with the same blue and green pastels with a black overlay to pick up the light and dark tones of the spectrum of gray green photos.

For my main project, I rummaged through the paper and art materials and settled on a piece of rust-colored cardstock and off-white carpet backing. Before I "happened" to pick the first National Geographic Magazine and turn to the page on "Life on the Edge" and the story of the polar bears that are moving quickly towards extinction due to global warming, I wondered if the carpet backing materials would be a good surface for the chalk pastels. I'll let you be the judge for yourself!

On my way home from Mill Valley, I stopped by the Mill Valley Art Store, which is going out of business, and picked up wax and damar resin crystals for doing encaustics this summer. Ooh, it's going to be a hot one this year!

I also got a great deal on the water-soluble oil paints by Windsor & Newton at 35% off. And a wonderful ceramic pallet to do egg tempera paintings with. Plus, I picked up 10 books of fingerpainting paper which will be perfect for monoprinting!!!

Personal Creativity Workshop

Day 1

Personal Creativity Workshop at O'Hanlon
Center for the Arts just gets better and better.
This week-end, we're getting together for 3 days
to stretch our creative bounds. After tea, Cayan
spread black and white photos, Joan Sadler's "rejects",
across the table and asked us to pick 4
or 5 that spoke to us. Ooh, it was so difficult to choose
from a stack of what felt like hundreds. Nevertheless,
it is possible because each person is attracted to
something different. Different seemed to be the key
phrase and inspiration for the day. Cayan asked us
to look for various visual elements such as close/far,
still or passive/active, light/dark in the photos. We picked
photos that represented these various features, then
got to work creating art on a black square of paper
with humble tools including black and white oil pastels,
wax blocks, bits of yarn, printer's rub-on letterset, and
newspaper, all to be incorporated into our artwork.
When I picked up the front page, I discovered a neatly
cut out picture of Emperor penguins. I chuckled to myself
as I picked up the picture, thinking about how Cayan said that
the best art is unplanned, and yet feeling particularly blessed since one of my all time favorite creatures are penguins. The large Emperor penguins are black and white birds, with bright yellow and orange markings across their head and throat. They are currently being located by satellite through their guano stains on the ice! In this particular photo, the close and far elements were there for my pure enjoyment.

As serendipity goes, the Nature channel ran a program last
night featuring the very same Emperor penguins! Art and perfect timing seem to go hand in hand.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marin County Fair Show CAFE

Today is the last day to get in applications to show artwork
at the Marin County Fair this summer. I submitted my
eggshell dress, artbook "Return to Oz", paintings in oil and
computer generated as well as a silverpoint drawing, "Hi Ho

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Origami "Scrap" Quilt Created with Monoprints

I am using my monoprint "rejects" to create a "scrap" quilt. In the making of my monoprints, I noticed that my brayer was going over the edge of my paper. To protect my work space, I placed a piece of paper under the paper I was working on. At the end of the day, I noticed a history of marks from the various inks I used throughout the session. I also found myself with a lot of unused ink on my pallet, and in my conservative nature, I sprayed the pallet with water, and "printed" more paper. With many monoprints accumulating quickly, I saw the opportunity to create a "scrap" quilt, with folded Origami "flowers". Now, I pin them to my wall in the foyer and enjoy the interplay of random color, line and form.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Artwork submitted to Surface/Tension: h2o Show

"Equisetum hyemale", monprint, ink on YUPO paper, 22" x 28"
"Ripple 1", monoprint, ink on YUPO paper, 12" x 18"

"Ripple 2", monoprint, ink on YUPO paper, 18" x 12"

I submitted these monoprints to the Surface/Tension: h2o Show at ICB, juried by Donna Seagar, which will be hanging at ICB through June.

(I first discovered YUPO paper when I created my artbook, "Return to Oz", which was shown last month in the "Elements" Show at OHCA.) YUPO "paper" is plastic that performs like Hot Press watercolor paper. Water-based printing ink travels on the surface of YUPO paper and yields many different effects, including "phases" of water that register like "steam", "mist" and "ripples". YUPO is the perfect support for wet and dry media as seen in my artbook.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Personal Creativity Workshop at O'Hanlon Center for the Arts

"Butterfly", Cray-pas on Brown Paper and Origami, 24" x 24"
This week-end, Cayen really stretched our boundaries, asking us to draw inspiration from a shape, rather than our usual way of working. We were instructed to tear or cut out a shape from a plain piece of typing paper, then pick from an image from her collection of postcards spread out on the table. We used the images and shapes for inspiration in our artworks. I picked a postcard with colorful fishes. Since my dominant right arm was hurting from doing too much art these days, she instructed me to glue my images, the positive and the negative, to a plain piece of brown butcher paper, then work only with my lefthand! I felt like a kid again, using Cray-pas and "painting" large shapes on my piece of paper. During critique, members pointed out how much my piece looks like silk. I found that interesting since I am now painting on silk! This piece was folded into a kite-form after it was painted, in the tradition of Origami.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Plexus Art Group Hats Benefit Zero Breast Cancer

Personal Creativity Workshop

Magazine Collage, 10" x 18"

When I arrived at Cayen's Personal Creativity Workshop on Saturday, she handed me an odd-sized piece of paper and told me to take risks. Before this, I always worked with images in my collages that made sense to me. In this collage, I was still drawn to my images, but I also explored pastels in the background. I also worked with images that I don't necessarily like, which served color fields of reds and golds to complement the bold black and white stripes of the zebras.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Art work hanging at O'Hanlon Center for the Arts

My painting, "Fire Spirit" will be on view at the O'Hanlon Center for the Arts show, "Memory and Transitions", through May. Please come to the Roundtable discussion on Tuesday at 4:00 PM to hear the artists talk about their work. Go to for parking information.

Monoprinting Workshop at OHCA

I took the monoprinting workshop at O'Hanlon Center for the Arts yesterday. The group meets on the first Sunday of every month. Cayen Robertson showed us many ways to work with monoprints including 1)direct drawing, 2) subtractive, and 3) additive techniques. I went wild with creating collages with monoprints and cover photos from old National Geographic magazines. In 1988, lemurs were on the edge of survival. I wonder how they are doing today, 22 years later.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I for imagination

My word-of-the-day project is coming along
well. Today, starts a new 2-week cycle
with the letter "I" which can stand for so many
things - imagination, intelligence, the Big, all
iimportant "I" and the one we see with. In
Mathematics, i is an imaginary number. I've
decided to incorporate this project into my
silk paintings, with embroidery, using the
gorgeous colors I picked up at Joanne's
Fabrics the other day.

"Handmade by Elise"

My silk painting with free-associations of
words and images is complete with a hand
stitched rolled hem. I asked my sister if she
had ever sewn one before and she said that
she hadn't, but she had seen it done once.
Mine is not perfect, but it is a hand-rolled hem,
created by keeping tension on the fabric, and it
feels like quite an accomplishment for me. I
need a magnifying glass to see the "blind" stitches!

Personal Creativity Workshop at OHCA

Today, Cayen gave each of us an unusually
sized piece of paper to experiment with. A
narrow rectangle spoke to me "Icabana" and
Sumo-e, but Cayan asked me to work in a
unfamiliar way. So, I took my paper, turned it
horizontally and worked with collage. I usd
"found" images, selecting magazines with my
eyes closed. I also incorporated pastels for
the first time, as color blocks in the foreground.