Community · Inspiration

Theme of Fall 2022: Falling Leaves

a watercolor and ink painting of golden and grey leaves by Angela Michaelina
“Falling Up” by Angela Michaelina

Hello, folks! Long time, no post. I hope everyone has been having a nice summer. I’ve been quite busy myself, hence my silence for the past couple of months. It’s hard to imagine that summer will soon be over. With that being said, fall will soon be here. What do you associate with this season? I imagine that these days, people would mention how there is pumpkin spice-flavored everything during autumn months. Though, there is another key trait that reminds people of fall: falling leaves!

We here who are managing the blog, Ambassadors, and other Path with Art players have decided to have a go at offering regular (perhaps seasonal?) themes to help inspire all of you fine folks and help generate some content for this blog. So, what does the former paragraph have anything to do with this? Well, the theme, courtesy of Bean Fairbanks, for this period is Falling Leaves.

In regards to this theme (and any future themes), you can submit any creative work to this blog relating to it, as long as the content adheres to the blog’s guidelines. For instance:

  • If you are a plein air painter or illustrator, you might want to share with us a painting or drawing that you did of the trees changing colors and dropping your leaves.
  • Or perhaps you like to collect dead leaves so that you can make collages, wreaths, or other crafts with them.
  • Maybe seeing the leaves in the breeze has inspired you to write a poem, some prose, or a short story about them.
  • Perhaps you want to make a simple mini-documentary of the changing foliage.
  • Or maybe you have been working on a podcast, and the topic of discussion pertains as to why deciduous trees drop their leaves.

The possibilities are endless (especially considering that you can be literal or unliteral as you want to be)! If you have any ideas, please send them our way. If you are uncertain as to go about this, refer to the submissions tab at the top of this page or e-mail us editors at blog@pathwithart.org, and if need be, we can aid you in this process.

Also, keep in mind that you are not limited or obligated to follow any themes that we present to you. You can submit material that is unrelated to the current theme at any time. We are happy to receive contributions of all types, as we want Path with Art participants of all types to be contributors to this blog.

So, to reiterate, the theme for fall 2022 for content to submit to the blog is falling leaves.

(By the way, if you have any ideas for future themes, feel free to share those with the editors, too!)

Artists · History · Visual Art

Collaborative Visual Art by The Beatles

I’ve always enjoyed learning little oddities and details about people, topics, and other things many probably don’t know, especially for subjects that are familiar to some extent to most. For instance, did you know that The Beatles had made a collaborative painting? I suspect most of you didn’t. To be honest, I can’t remember how I learned of this: I believe I was searching for a specific photo of The Beatles and stumbled upon this by complete accident. I’ve noticed that this subject doesn’t come up much, even among huge fans of The Beatles, which I suppose you could categorize me as such.

"Images of a Woman" by The Beatles
photo provided by The Beatles Bible

The above painting is titled “Images of a Woman” and is a thirty inch by forty inch piece made with oil paint and watercolor on paper. This piece was completed over a period of three days in 1966 in Japan when they were there to perform at the Budokan. Due to security reasons, they were sequestered in their hotel suite for a good portion of their time and needed something to occupy them. There is discrepancy reported in who provided them the art supplies: it has been said to either be their manager, Brian Epstein, or their Japanese promoter, Tats Nagashima.

The photos taken by photographer Robert Whitaker, who accompanied The Beatles during a significant portion of their touring years, provide some insight on how this painting was made. As you can see in most of the photos I have shared below, there is a lamp resting in the middle of the substrate that they are painting on. The base of the lamp is what had formed the white circle in the middle of the work. Seeing how the circle is noticeably not in the center of the piece and how their signatures in it are adjacent to the corner that they worked on, you can’t help but to wonder if John and Paul had hogged up the workspace and George and Ringo had less room to maneuver, if George and/or Ringo wanted more overhead light to better see what they are doing (and if we were to go by that theory, I’d say that applies more to the aforementioned member rather than the latter, seeing how the lamp was the closest to George’s corner), something else, or even them not even thinking that much or any about where the lamp was placed.

The Beatles painting a canvas with table lamp resting on it
photo courtesy of Robert Whitaker, provided by The Beatles Bible

Something else I have observed is how they had added the background color after everything else. The photo immediately below best shows that: you can clearly see how blank canvas occupied the surface as they painted in their respective corners. I think most of you Path with Art painters have experienced how difficult it is to fill in the background of a painting, if you decide to paint the subject first. I am wondering if the use of watercolor paint factored into this choice, as it is a paint with low opacity, meaning that it doesn’t usually allow you to block out lower layers of paint entirely with subsequently painted layers like acrylic, oil paint, or gouache does.

George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon painting a canvas
photo courtesy of Robert Whitaker, provided by The Beatles Bible

There’s not a good photo of John working on his portion (upper left of painting), which makes it a tiny bit harder to scrutinize his process. But what I find interesting is how clear it is to comprehend what he made. What I mean by that is that he struck me as the sort who planned very little, if he were told to be somewhere at a certain time, he would arrive at some point later, and had an all-around chaotic nature. But I suppose those who are often part of the chaos, and perhaps even perpetuate it, are often the ones who can make sense of it and find ways to refine it.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney painting a canvas
photo courtesy of Robert Whitaker, provided by The Beatles Bible

Paul’s corner (upper right of painting) doesn’t surprise me in the slightest in how it comes across as seeming the most planned and orderly. (After all, that sort of nature is a key contributor in what formed a rift farther down the line, but it was also what helped them keep on task earlier on.) It’s the corner the strikes me as being the most literal, too. (Though, John’s corner is the one that I’d describe as being the second-most literal, and for different reasons, but still running along the same vein as Paul’s section.) But by no means would I call his part plain or dull. It’s still aesthetically-pleasing.

Paul McCartney painting a canvas
photo courtesy of Robert Whitaker, provided by The Beatles Bible

George’s piece (lower right of painting) is the portion I could hear a lot of people describe as being the most enigmatic. His portion has a painterly and sprawling quality that the other corners lack. I would perhaps describe it as being not corporal, which I can’t say that of the others. (And I would also say that that aspect makes perfect sense, too, not just visually-speaking, but who the artist was, too.) I wouldn’t describe it as complete and total chaos—there’s still a certain sort of cohesiveness and distinct flowing movement to it. It strikes me as having a base-level structure or plan that is improvised upon based on what George saw or found fit at that moment—kind of how I interpret how he functioned in general from what little I know of him (and I know him the most of all of The Beatles).

George Harrison painting a canvas
photo courtesy of Robert Whitaker, provided by The Beatles Bible

Ringo’s portion (lower left of painting) is probably my favorite. It’s probably the part of the painting that I actually find confusing on some level in terms of subject, but I like it despite that. I think describing it as methodical, but not insomuch planned, somehow seems apt. And it’s deceptively simplistic, in that the forms are strong and clear, but that aspect gives it a special sort of harmony that I can’t quite articulate.

Ringo Starr painting a canvas
photo courtesy of Robert Whitaker, provided by The Beatles Bible

I wish I could find information as to how they selected their subject and who came up with the painting’s title. (Seriously, during any new interview conducted with Paul, someone should ask him some questions about this painting. So much of what people ask him has already answered a million times.) I’m curious if knowing such information would change my analysis of each segment.

Supposedly, creating this painting was something the four of them really looked forward to doing and perhaps even found the process therapeutic. Part of me is curious as to why they didn’t make more collaborative visual art pieces, apart from one other that I will mention a bit below, together. I suppose it was largely due to a lack of time. But if they had worked on numerous visual art projects, I suspect that tension would eventually develop between them with that task, too—after all, there seems to be more overlap to creating music and creating visual art than many probably realize. But then again, seeing how much painting “Images of a Woman” calmed them, maybe that would’ve lessened or prevented what turbulence eventually happened.

The history of whose hands this painting has passed through is interesting, too, including how the painting remained under someone’s bed for decades. Though, to be honest, I don’t find this part as intriguing as learning about the creation process and analysis of this work—I’m like that about visual art in general. I suggest reading the article from The Atlantic that I have sourced throughout this post, if want to learn more about its sales history and ownership.

As for the other collaborative piece I had briefly mentioned earlier, it was a drawing in colored pencil that they had made in 1967 known as “Peace To Monterey.” This piece was sent to the organizers of the Monterey International Pop Festival, an event that they regretfully were unable to attend (which is interesting, considering that Paul was one of the musicians who was involved in the festival’s genesis). There seems to be even less information out there about this piece than the one that is of primary focus for this entry, including its whereabouts. Unlike “Images of a Woman,” this piece doesn’t feel as if it initially started as something collaborative—it looks as if one of them might had been doodling during a moment of rest, and everyone realizing that it would be polite to contact the coordinators of the music festival decided this picture would be something nice to send, and the others added bits to it. If my theory is right, I can’t help but to feel that George was the one who started the drawing, as the primary subject (not objective) was more in his wheelhouse than anyone else; also, if you have ever seen any of the doodles John had drawn, this piece isn’t what I’d see as indicative of them (and this is even taking into account of how his latter drawings are looser in form than his earlier published drawings—honestly, I think his earlier stuff has a certain charm that his later stuff lacks, and this whole tangent would probably make a neat future blog post).

"Peace To Monterey" by The Beatles
photo provided by The Beatles Bible

A point to mention about both pieces before I close out: I have yet to locate prints made of either of these pieces. I think “Images of a Woman” would make an interesting wall decoration and conversation piece, and would be a piece of fan memorabilia that strikes me as being classier than the usual sort of fare. I think if this work were more widely known, there would be enough fan demand for prints of these works to be financially lucrative.

History · Writing

The Mural of Unusual Size

photo courtesy of Angela Michaelina

Everyday when I wake up, the first thing I see when open the curtains of my balcony door, I see a certain mural. This mural is very hard to miss because it takes up the side of three steel-framed, yellow brick buildings, the primary building being five-and-half stories tall. This piece of art is the primary reason why I am glad to have apartment on the side of the building that is located. I know that one of my neighbors is of the opinion that a child designed this, but judging by that comment, I realize that he doesn’t have much knowledge about the technical aspect of art. Everybody’s a critic.

Because of the mural’s enormous scale, the title of the mural is “The Mural of Unusual Size.” This piece was designed and painted in 2017 by HENSE, an artist from Atlanta, Georgia and was part of a project to revitalize blighted properties in the city. The painting required 170 gallons of paint to complete. While I was glad to learn this information, I wanted to learn a bit more, as I’ve never been pleased with answers on a superficial level. In particular, I wanted to learn a bit more about the building.

I knew that the buildings were currently occupied by an audio-visual consultant and an automotive repair garage, but I didn’t know anything about the building’s past. Someone had told me that it was once an old factory, but they did not elaborate beyond that. And for all I knew, what they told me was incorrect. I tried searching for the desired answers online, but I only got articles about the creation of the mural. I knew that someone had the answers. So decided to contact the artist—maybe someone had told him of the site’s history when he took on that job. I sent him an e-mail through the contact form on his site. A couple of days later, I thought of someone else who might be more helpful: the Washington County Historical Society. So I sent them an e-mail, too.

While I still have not heard back from HENSE, the office admin of the historical society suggested that I should check the Maryland Historical Trust’s website. Turns out that that was an excellent piece of advice. Using Medusa’s, their online database, map tool, I found an application from when the building applied for historical status.  I had learned that the building was once the site of D.A. Stickell & Sons Feed Manufacturing. This company was both a flour and feed producer. The building was constructed in 1947 and continued to operate until some point in the 1950s. Through this information, I was able to locate some of the burlap sacks that they used through online antiques dealers:

photo courtesy of powerballteresa

photo courtesy of lowerferryflair

photo courtesy of fordnut88

But to dig even deeper and farther back, another mill occupied the location of D.A. Stickell & Sons prior to its existence. According to the application, the site was once the place for the Anchor Milling Company. Reportedly, one of the old warehouses that stands there belonged to them and is dated as 1919. I cannot find much information about this particular company. I do come across information about an Anchor Milling Company that had once existed in Missouri, but I cannot figure out if this is the same company. What makes determining this more confusing is that I found information about a family that lives in Miller County, the site of the Missouri Anchor Milling Company, who originally lived in Hagerstown, Maryland prior to immigrating from Switzerland, and that people in this very same family worked for the mill in Missouri. I cannot figure out if the connection to Hagerstown is a mere coincidence or not. And what muddies the waters even more is that there was an Anchor Milling Company in Ohio at some point, too. Was that one in any shape or form connected to the other Anchor Milling Companies? Prior to starting this post, I thought I had my dots connected, but a second look has made me realize otherwise. I suppose asking the Miller County Historical Society could clarify matters.

There is even something more baffling that I have come across. I had found an ad for D.A. Stickell & Sons, but it is filed as being from 1915 in the digital library of WHILBR, Western Maryland’s Historical Library. I had originally not noticed that date, and assumed it was from the time frame that was reported on the aforementioned application. But looking a bit more closely at the artwork and typefaces, I highly doubt that the ad was from the 1940s or 1950s and that the year it is filed under is correct. (Printed ad artwork and typefaces throughout history is another subject that would make for an interesting post, but that is aside my overall point.) While the location has a different building number than what the building currently has and was filed as having in the historical status application, I am sure this is for the same buildings. Either the number in the ad is a typographical error or the buildings had a different (but similar) number at that time. I am certain that this ad is for the same location as the cross street that is mentioned is the same one that is where the mural is located. Perhaps these were entirely different structures that had been demolished at one point. But even if that were the case, why does the information in Medusa allude to the Anchor Milling Company being there at that time? For that matter, 1915 predates the existence of the Anchor Milling Company existing in Hagerstown by four years. Did the Anchor Milling Company buy D.A. Stickell & Sons and the former name was kept?

While I am a bit flustered that my question has yet to fully be answered like I thought it was (and perhaps it never will be), the buildings are a bit less of a mystery. Ironically, this newly acquired information does not paint a clearer picture of the artwork itself, and the mystery is as tangled as the artwork itself.

Inspiration · Visual Art

How to Make Homemade Gelli Plates

I think I’m confident in saying that regardless of anyone’s income, the vast majority of artists like to save money when purchasing their materials. This is no exception for anyone who uses Gelli plates for their printmaking. For those uninitiated with Gelli plates and printing, one coats a slightly sticky, thick sheet of gelatin with a thin layer of water-soluble ink or paint; this coated sheet is then pressed against a non-glossy leaf of paper. Before pressing, the ink or paint can be moved about with an applicator, stamped or stenciled onto, or gently scraped from the paint to form images. Thin, flexible objects can also be placed in between the coated plate and paper to form shapes on the paper that are devoid of ink. There are other techniques that can be utilized, but I were to explain them, I would be deviating a bit too much from the purpose of the post. Some of the classes Teaching Artist Laurie Brown has taught for Path with Art have utilized these items.

To connect the issue of expense and income with the acquisition of art supplies and Gelli plates, if you had visited the above link to the store page for Gelli Arts, you may have noticed something concerning: the plates have a steep price tag! A 3 inch by 5 inch plate costs $12.95, not including taxes, shipping, and other fees. Keep in mind that the dimensions of this plate are not even the size of a standard postcard. But fortunately, there is a more cost-effective way to obtain Gelli plates: by making them yourself.  And even better, the process of making them is not laboriously intense nor does it involve many ingredients. But keep in mind that access to a kitchen burner and basic kitchen equipment are involved in this process, as I know that some of you who are reading this article do not have regular access to either of these.

The recipe and instructions I am sharing with you is a modified version of the process found on The Frugal Crafter’s blog.  I found that the instructions she gave did not allow for the plates to congeal adequately, resulting in plates that were too soft and delicate for use. I also wanted to be much more specific in my instruction so that you are less likely to encounter any issues. Any grade of glycerin (craft, medical, or consumable) can be used for this project. Also, I included the optional ingredient of peppermint oil or clove oil for the sake of adding an additional preservative, making the plates without it will work perfectly fine, as the addition of glycerin helps prevent any spoilage that would normally occur without it. If you decide to use either of these oils, make certain that you are using essential oils, not flavoring oils for use in baking and candy making, and to gently wash the plates with dish soap after the plates are ready for use, as the excess oil may repel ink or paint a bit.

Permanent Homemade Gelli Plates

photo courtesy of Angela Michaelina

Ingredients

  • 15 tablespoons gelatin (or 15 Knox gelatin packets)
  • 1½ cups glycerin
  • 1½ cups boiling hot water
  • 3 to 5 drops peppermint or clove essential oil (optional)

Equipment

  • 2-quart heat-safe bowl (can be larger, if you do not have smaller bowl available)
  • 2-cup liquid measuring cup
  • dry measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • large mixing spoon
  • small saucepan
  • paring knife
  • rubber spatula
  • baking sheets, heat-safe plates, heat-safe bowls with broad bases, or other similar containers (has to be at least ¼ inch deep)
  • dish soap and water (if needed)
  • paper towels (if needed)
  • clean, sharp scissors (optional)
  • plastic zipper bags and/or firm plastic sheets trimmed to the width and length of containers

Instructions

  1. Measure and add 15 tablespoons gelatin, 1½ cups glycerin, and 3 to 5 drops of peppermint or clove essential oil (optional) to a 2-quart heat-safe bowl. Mix the ingredients until they are fully incorporated and no lumps remain.
  2. In a small sauce pan, bring 1½ cups of water to a full boil.
  3. Add the heated water to the bowl containing the gelatin, glycerin, and oil mixture.  Mix until well-blended and gelatin is fully dissolved.
  4. Quickly pour mixture into desired container. Make mixture coats the inner base of the container completely and is at a depth of at least ¼ inch. Ensure that the container sits on a level surface.
  5. Allow for the container to remain undisturbed until fully cooled and that the mixture forms a very firm gel. This process will take several hours, but letting the mixture set overnight will ensure the proper consistency.
  6. With a paring knife, very carefully insert the blade against the inner edge of the container and glide it against the entire inner perimeter of the container. Take care not to tear the gel sheet.
  7. Insert the blade of a rubber spatula and glide it along the same path you made when you used the paring knife. 
  8. Carefully slide the rubber spatula under the edge of the gel sheet. Slowly lift the spatula once the blade of it is fully inserted, taking care not to tear the gel sheet.
  9. While the gel sheet is elevated, gently grab the gel sheet with your free hand. Very slowly peel the gel sheet from the container, once again ensuring that the gel sheet does not tear.
  10. If you had used some essential oils, very gently wash the outer surfaces gel sheet under running water with a very small amount of dish soap. Do not use any washcloths, sponges, or scouring pads to clean the sheet—use your hands. Lightly blot any water from the surface with a dry paper towel to speed up the drying process.
  11. (optional, but recommended) With a clean pair of sharp scissors, trim any ragged excess gel from the top edge of the gel sheet.
  12. Store the gel sheet between plastic sheeting cut to the length and the width of the gel sheet and/or insert the gel sheet into a plastic zipper bag. (I recommend both because sliding gel sheets into plastic zipper bags alone can be a clunky process. And storing the gel sheets between plastic sheeting alone can still leave the edges of the plates exposed, possibly inviting dust to stick to their edges. While you can wash any stuck dust off, storing them in the bag allows you to not take that additional step.)

photo courtesy of Angela Michaelina

If you find yourself accidentally tearing the sheet at some point during the process, fear not. Depending upon the material and dimensions of the container you are using, you can pop the container with the hardened gel in it into the microwave for about a minute to melt the gel. And if you are using a container that is too larger and/or not microwave safe, you can always tear up the gel and place it into a saucepan, and melt the gel over low heat on the stove. Once the gel is fully melted, if poured back into the container if needed, you allow for the gel to properly set again, and you can make another attempt at removing the gel sheet.

Another perk to making your own sheets is that you can make a more varying array of plates of different shapes. To give you an idea of what I mean, take a look at the photo I have displayed below. The sheet in the bottom right corner is one that has been commercially produced. The other sheets are ones I have made myself. (The reason why the rectangle and oval have a white foam on their top surface is that I had used an immersion blender to mix them. I do not recommend doing this nor using a standard blender or food processor.)

photo courtesy of Angela Michaelina

Seeing that the FAQ page on the Gelli Arts website mentions that their plates do not contain products derived from animals, I would presume that you could use agar agar to make them. (I get the feeling that carrageenan or pectin would produce plates that are too soft.) Perhaps one of these days, I will experiment with it—if I do, I’ll be sure to provide an update.

Before I close this post, if you are unsure of where to begin with using gel plates, check out the printing basics category available on Gelli Arts’ website. They can provide far more information and techniques than I could. At a quick glance, I can see that they suggest some ideas that haven’t occurred to me!

Community · Visual Art

Exhibitions in 6×6 Format

Something I try to do in hopes of promoting my artwork is entering exhibitions. I’ve fallen behind in this practice, but now that my living situation is stable once again, I am returning to doing this. Finding exhibitions that are affordable can be difficult, as I have little money to spare. Despite that, I had prior knowledge of one that occurs annually and doesn’t have an entry fee that will break the bank: RoCo 6×6.

RoCo 6×6 is an exhibit that the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center has every year. Anyone can submit up to four entries, which are each to have surfaces that measure six inches by six inches. By “anyone,” I mean artists of all ages and skill levels, and from anywhere in the world. While there is no registration fee, most artists will have to pay shipping costs.

Why does this arts center have this exhibition? This event serves as their only fundraiser, as the center sells each piece of artwork for $20.00, both on site and online. Unfortunately, artists do not get a cut of these proceeds nor do they have any unsold artwork returned to them, as unsold pieces will continue to be for sale online at a discounted price.

To give you an idea of work that might be submitted, below are the four pieces I created.

“Union” by Angela Michaelina, March 2022
“Structure” by Angela Michaelina, March 2022

“Autonomy” by Angela Michaelina, March 2022

“Harmony” by Angela Michaelina, March 2022

Despite that, a week ago, I had learned from another Path with Art artist that there is a similar exhibition held by an organization in Shoreline, Washington, 6X6NW. This show allows for you to enter ten pieces of artwork, each on a six inch by six inch surface. Or if you are someone whose forte is in the realm of photography, you may enter ten photos that are to be displayed at eight inches by eight inches. While there is a $6.00 flat entry fee for registering if you are not a pre-K to twelfth grade student (and from what I interpret from the guidelines, you can submit both photos and artwork, yet you would pay $12.00, as the artwork and photos seem to be managed as two separate entities—contact the organization for clarification), I know that a portion of this blog’s intended audience can bypass shipping fees by dropping off pieces in person. Also, photo entries can be submitted electronically, each file needing to be at least 800 pixels by 800 pixels. 

While 6X6NW is similar to RoCo 6×6 in that you will not be returned any unsold artwork, a huge plus is that you can earn forty percent commission for your art that sells. Each piece is going to be sold at $36.00 during the time of exhibition, so you can earn $14.40 for each sold work. There also are awards given for People’s Choice, Sponsor’s Choice and Director’s Choice.

There is still time to enter the 2022 iteration of this show—for that matter, registration hasn’t even opened yet! Registration will occur in June 2022, so keep your eyes on their website!

Inspiration

Topic of discussion: What inspires you?

Art by Angela Michaelina

HELLO, FOLKS! EACH MONTH ON PATH WITH ART’S COMMUNITY BLOG,
we have a topic of discussion in which people can provide answers. This is one of many ways in which we can connect as an organization and share thoughts. To provide submissions for these topics, connect to the fine editors at blog@pathwithart.org. You may request to directly submit your responses to the blog by having an account that will allow you to make posts. If you feel that you are not technologically proficient enough to go with this option, you may submit your responses via e-mail, and the editors will post on your behalf (still giving you credit for contribution, of course). Keep in mind that submissions containing inflammatory and divisive content will not be accepted.

The topic for the month of March 2021 is the following, an old chestnut to ask creative sorts, I suppose: What inspires you?

To kick things off, I guess what inspires me isn’t exactly an orthodox response: often, the ideas I get for my artwork are from me turning phrases, expressions, unusual remarks, and snippets of lyrics on their heads and creating depictions from that. That is, often times, I like to think of how these bits of words might look literally and create something from that. The words themselves act as the titles of these pieces. Oddly, this process seems to be a reverse of how I write as I don’t create titles to my written works until the body of the work has been completed.

Granted, not all of my visual art stems from this source and process of inspiration. When I find that I am working on an assigned project or something with a loose prompt, I regularly find myself returning to certain subjects that have been constants through out my life and finding ways of weaving those into the works, either overtly or subliminally. It’s fun seeing if and when people pick up on this.

So, how about you? What do you find inspiring? How does it affect you creatively?