White Line Woodcut Fever

I love the textures from the wood.  You paint one section and then rub the back of the paper. Deceptively simple.
I love the textures from the wood. You paint one section at a time and then rub the back of the paper to transfer the image from the woodblock.  Deceptively simple.

I took a class with Amy McGregor Radin  in April of 2013 at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA.  I discovered a  technique that brings together printmaking and watercolor painting: two of my favorite things.   White line woodcut was developed in Provincetown, MA in 1915, and made famous by Blanche Lazell and a number of other artists who embraced this simple technique as an alternative to Japanese woodblock printing (which requires a separate block for each color).

Painting the wood block with watercolor
Painting the wood block with watercolor

Below is a new print entitled Evening Owl.  I love the subtle gradations of color and the textures that are transferred from the wood.

Evening Owl

Turning the Corner

Progress is being made on my 5′ X 5′ mosaic.  I am very appreciative of the help I have received from Jill Curtis, Nora Manley and Judith Zinker.  I am looking forward to installing this piece in a new park in Boston in the beginning of June.


Mosaics at Maud Morgan Art Center

Seven students in my class produced beautiful work in a workshop at the Maud Morgan Art Center in Cambridge, MA on two chilly Sundays in April.  We worked on 8″ X 8″ squares.  The birds below are by Debbie Whitney.

Mosaic by Debbie Whitney
Mosaic by Debbie Whitney

You may recognize the mosaic below from my class at Mass College of Art earlier in the month.  Kate attended this class at Maud Morgan Arts to finish up her background and grout and frame her beautiful owl.  This is Kate’s first mosaic.

Kate Larabee's mosaic
Kate Larabee’s mosaic

Susan also decided to take the class at Maud Morgan Arts after taking the class at Mass Art recently.  Her two boxer mosaics are finished, grouted and framed.

Susan Berman's mosaic
Susan Berman’s mosaic
Susan Berman's mosaic
Susan Berman’s mosaic

Susan also worked on an abstract mosaic for the first time.  She worked with gradations of light and dark,  subtle color changes, and varying the shapes of the tesserae.

Abstration by Sysan Berman five hours later
Abstraction by Susan Berman

Jennifer created her first mosaic, inspired by a still life with tropical fruits.  She cut the tiles into very small pieces and worked on perfecting curves and color gradations.

Mosaic by Jennifer Jacoby
Mosaic by Jennifer Jacoby

Leslie has some experience with mosaics and used this class to develop an original design and to work on her composition and the flow (or andamento) of the tiles.

Leslie Walters' mosaic
Leslie Walters’ mosaic

Adria has worked in many other media, and this was her first experience with mosaics.  She used one of her paintings as the inspiration for this abstract composition.

Adria Arch's mosaic
Adria Arch’s mosaic

Dianne has been working primarily in clay, and this is her first mosaic.  Mosaics and clay go together very well; the broken pieces of ceramics can be recycled into a mosaic project.

Dianne Henning's mosaic
Dianne Henning’s mosaic


Year of the Quilt

I took a class with Kaffe Fasset (as he says, “pronounced like safe asset”) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 2012.  In this one-day workshop we all made the same quilt from a pattern called Sunlight in the Forest from his book, Quilts in Sweden.   This was the first time I used a piece of felt hung on the wall to “compose” my design before sewing.  It allows you to move the fabric squares around easily until you have a balanced and exciting design.  I really enjoyed the process.

IMG_0918I used a lot of Marcia Derse fabrics, which feature brushstrokes and simple patterns printed in subtle colors. I mixed in some striped fabrics designed by Kaffe Fassett.   Kaffe helped me to get the light and dark fabrics (I think I was the only person using black) to balance in a playful way.

Kaffe critiques our work.

It took me about a year to finish the front and then put the layers of the quilt together.  Each square is hand-quilted with an “X”.  The binding is bright green.  I made the quilt as a gift for my niece Amelia for her first apartment in New York, where I hope it is keeping her warm and cozy.





California Backsplash

A visit with architects Susan Ubbelohde and George Loisos in Oakland, CA last summer led to a conversation about me making a backsplash for the 14″ X 38″ space behind the sink in their loft apartment.  My friends have a collection of fiesta ware and I used these colorful dishes as the inspiration for my abstract design.  I also included a sailboat image because Susan and George  are renovating a wooden boat.

Colored pencil drawing in place in Oakland kitchen.
Colored pencil drawing in place in Oakland kitchen.

Once the design was approved, I used underglazes to paint the imagery on 4 X 4 bisque tiles, and then glazed them with a shiny clear glaze.  After the first firing there were a few areas that I wanted to re-work because I didn’t like the look of the brushstrokes.  So I carefully painted those areas with an opaque colored gloss glaze.  Everything looked great after the second firing EXCEPT for one tile that had a little piece of the kiln brick stuck to it.


I spent about ten minutes sanding the area with a rough sandpaper.


Then I sanded for a few more minutes until the offending piece of brick was removed.


Now I will re-fire this one tile and I hope that will be it!

The backsplash minus one tile that is being repaired.
The backsplash minus one tile that is being repaired.

Here are a couple of details that show the dots and dashes that I love because they make everything vibrate.


Thank you to Jill Curtis for her assistance with this project.



Mosaic Workshop at Mass College of Art

I taught a mosaic workshop which took place on two consecutive Sundays in April 2014.  Six students worked on pieces that were approximately eight by eight inches.  The class was six hours on each Sunday, and the time flew by.

mosaic by Christine Demers
mosaic by Christine Demers

I emphasize design and color in my teaching.  We used handmade tiles made in Mexico, called smalti.

Debbie Whitney grouting her mosaic
Debbie Whitney grouting her mosaic

Students carefully decide on the size and direction of the glass tiles to best emphasize the shapes in each composition.

Susan Berman's pair of Boxers
Susan Berman’s pair of Boxers

Sometimes students work on special projects.  The mosaic below was inspired by Roman mosaics, and uses a background called Opus Vermiculatum.    In mosaics, Opus refers to the style of the background, and Vermiculatum means “worm-like”.  So in this case the background color wraps around the numbers first, like a worm, then goes in a different direction, parallel to the borders.

A house number by Elizabeth Brown
A house number by Elizabeth Brown

We learn about a variety of mosaic materials, including ceramic tiles, millefiori, and glass.  Some tiles are matte, some are iridescent.

Aimee Carvalho's multi-media mosaic
Aimee Carvalho’s multi-media mosaic

The flow and movement of the tiles (or tesserae) in a mosaic is called andamento.  In the owl below, the tesserae follow the outline of the owl.  The moon and the branch surround the owl to create a circular movement in this piece.

Mosaic by Kate Larrabee
Mosaic by Kate Larrabee


Kids Need Art Too

My friend Chad asked me to make a gift for his godson who just turned one.  He said it should be a plate with an edge so “his peas won’t fall off” and he wanted a Scottish theme for a Scottish boy.  This is the plate still warm in the kiln.  The boy’s initials are on the back.  If his parents keep this on a high shelf for the next fifteen years he will have it as a memento of his first birthday for a long time.


Art as it Happens