Here are the months and topics of my journal blog.
Click each month to see news of that month.
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|February 2008||My Studio in Winter||My Crocheted Wedding Dress|
|April 2008||How is a Dance like a Painting?||Books by Alexander McCall Smith|
|June 2008||What is a Hand-Colored Photo?||Might you like to make one?|
|June 2007||About Spring Art||In Art, What Is a Life Study?|
|July 2007||About my Grandfather||Stormy Weather by Julette Jiles|
|August 2007||Squirrels and Squirrel Spaniels||Papillons; A Momentous Birthday|
|December 2007||A Solo Art Show at the Lyceum||Historical Brownville in Nebraska|
See April 2009 Art Newsletter
See April 2010 Art Newsletter
See June 2010 Art Newsletter
See August 2009 Art Newsletter
See August 2010 Art Newsletter
See October 2010 Art Newsletter
See November 2010 Art Newsletter
See December 2010 Art Newsletter
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"Her Gentle Touch, Latasha Vere" pastel 1997
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I appreciate the warmth and comfort of my studio during winter. It has neutral colors and natural light. I keep photographs of my family nearby. I have some realistic dolls of young children, which help me keep in mind the proportions of childhood while painting children. I used to be able to study my own children, but now even my youngest has become more of a man than a child. I will write about my favorite doll artists soon.In the studio are my wonderful art books, most of them like wise friends, waiting on the shelf to help and inspire me.
One of my favorite inspirations in the studio is my fabric and linen collection. As a young woman, I enjoyed sewing. I have romantic toddler dresses by April Cornell that are sometimes used for portrait sittings and ideas, in blush pink and ecru, also a handmade dress in blue toile. I keep samples of Victorian ribbon-embroidery, laces, crocheted doilies and tatting. For two recent portraits, I designed the dresses to paint. Elegant embroidery on pillowcases and runners charms me, as I imagine the skill and patience of hands creating it years ago. My grandmother passed on to me a pillow sham and a baptismal gown over a hundred years old.When I was a young woman, I enjoyed crocheting toys and sweaters for my children. You may be surprised to learn that I crocheted my wedding dress, too, of finely spun pearl yarn, which took me three hundred hours to finish. It had about a hundred crocheted rosettes on the sleeves and floor-length skirt. I crocheted the front of the dress during the autumn and spring college terms. I crocheted the back during summer, college break. Then I noticed a peculiar thing. The back of the dress was about eight inches longer than the front. Oh, dear! I checked the pattern again. What had happened? Finally I realized that since I had felt more tense during the college years, juggling classes and work at a restaurant, I had pulled the yarn tighter. Front and back of the dress had the same number of rows, but all the stitches were tighter in the front part. So I improvised by pulling up the back part with columns of cotton perling thread. The effect was pretty and added interest to the design! The motto is: We all need more summer relaxation, in every season of the year.
I sewed a silk christening gown with smocking for our children, here worn by Gregory Michael in 1992. Credit for the beautiful photo: Barb Gardner
Once upon a time . . .
Nancy's Crocheted Wedding Dress
Photo by David Lee
I hope the recital goes smoothly. In 2005 a child scraped her arm and needed a Band-Aid just as we were lining up to go onstage. She could simply not dance without a Band-Aid, nor without antibiotic ointment on the cut (Can you tell that both of her parents were doctors?). No other mishaps since then.I like everything about ballet, from the French words (I studied French for four years in high school) to the graceful steps to the beautiful music. Helping the children and teacher brings me happiness. Ballet works like a tonic for my blue moods.
It is similar for paintings. One painting may include hundreds of decisions in design, color, brush stroke, edge, and shape. In the end, however, the painting should look as if it were effortless. The artist may feel tired and ragged, like the dancers at the end of an energetic dance, yet only the fresh beauty of the artwork is meant to be seen.In the book by the Royal Academy of Dancing, Step by Step, Steven Heathcote of the Australian Ballet wrote: There will always be more to discover about the elusive world of dance, and I hope to be able to contribute to it for many years to come. I like how elusive Fine Art is. I hope to keep contributing to it.
Some collectors have asked me to create small original works that would be more affordable than oil paintings. In 2004, therefore, I began to use oil glazes on black and white (and also sepia) photographs, a process that takes less time than a full painting. Suppose I compare making a painting to the baking of a cake from scratch, from selecting the recipe to assembling all the ingredients. In that case, hand-coloring a photo is like putting the icing on a cake that has already been baked. It is the fun, colorful part, made easy because the photo supplies the drawing and values (light and dark areas).I select a photo that I have taken. First I seal the photo, to protect it from the oil glazes. I then apply from four to twelve glazes of color and add texture by hand.
Below here is a black and white photo taken by my friend, photographer Lynell Morgan, of Lynell's niece and nephew. I handcolored the 11x14 photo for her.
Text and art here has been copyrighted by Nancy Lee Moran, with one artwork also copyrighted by Lynell Morgan.
There are MORE SAMPLES of handcolored photos on my website.
In December 2005, Brownville took a leap forward with the opening of The Lyceum, a used bookstore and restaurant. The sunny business, spread over three 1870s brick buildings on Main Street, can serve as a home base for bookworms and tourists bound for the town’s museums and theaters. Also on Main Street, George Neubert, former director of the Sheldon Art Gallery, has begun work on a church that will soon house a folk art gallery.
With her husband Randel, Jane Smith runs the Spirit of Brownville, an excursion boat that hosts tours and dinner cruises on the Missouri in warmer months. Over the years, the 67-year-old woman with the bright blue eyes and perfect posture has done a lot to boost the town. But she never thought about opening a restaurant or bookstore until four years ago. Smith read an article about the Book Town movement, an effort to stimulate rural economies with used bookstores.
With no real intent, Smith fired off an e-mail about Brownville to “Book King” Richard Booth of Hay-on-Wye, Wales, a remote village that now has 38 bookstores. “I never expected him to write me back,” Smith said, “but he did.” In 2003, the self-crowned Book King raised his scepter and decreed Brownville a Book Town. Smith’s plan also received a $102,700 grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development because it would create jobs. “Then the die was cast,” she said.
The sprawling store is inviting with blooming geraniums and cozy places to curl up and read the six tons of books that arrived last fall. Books sell for under $10 and children’s books are even cheaper. Nearly all the books are shipped from Wales, so inventory runs to English tastes. One rack was filled with books on British royals, with old copies of the London tabloid “OK!” and pictures of Lady Di. People have been carrying out books by the armloads, Smith said.“The philosophy is not that you come in here looking for a specific book,” she said.“Our idea is that the book finds you.”
The Lyceum takes its name from the town’s long-gone Literary Library Lyceum, started in 1857 to debate such controversial topics as women’s rights and water laws. - Lincoln Journal Star article by Kendra Waltke
In my yard is a long row of evergreens, arbor vitae that my husband Bill and I planted when our children were toddlers. Tall and graceful trees, their lacy foliage is a bird refuge. This summer my husband pruned the boughs to create space underneath the arbor vitae. He turned the soil over and over to mix it with peat moss, then planted ferns, azaleas and hosta. Though we live in Nebraska prairie farmland hills, he made a woodland effect. Cool, shady, moist, with the sound of air in evergreen lace, it reminds me of a mountain path.Squirrels amuse me with their funny antics. I put out sunflower seeds and peanuts for them, with a dish of water. This summer they have been eating the half-ripened tomatoes in my garden. An article in the Omaha World Herald newspaper revealed the squirrels have been extra hungry this year. A late, prolonged freeze in spring led the maple trees to produce few seeds. You may recall the helicopter-blade seeds that whirl and spin off branches. You may have chased after them as a child, just for fun. Maple seeds are a staple food of squirrels, something I never knew until the newspaper article. In Omaha, hungry squirrels have even been stripping bark off trees.
Our two papillon dogs like to rush out the door to chase squirrels out of the fenced yard. I give the squirrels a warning by clacking the door, so papillons and squirrels never meet up. The papillons are only a few pounds heavier than the squirrels. In Belgium, papillons (which means butterflies in French) were called Squirrel Spaniels, perhaps since they chased squirrels from brush piles for hunters. Another source for the name may have been the comparison of the papillon tail as curling over its back like a squirrel tail.One more papillon story: Our two dogs chased a rabbit back and forth along the fence in June, totally ignoring me as I tried to catch and stop them. Finally, the rabbit and dogs all stopped, all hearts racing, all exhausted. As I came near, I was surprised to see one of the dogs was licking the rabbit's eye. The other dog patted the rabbit's tail with a paw and yapped, hoping to get the chasing-game started again. By then I had sneaked up, praying the rabbit would stay put while I snatched two dog tails. I felt grateful our dogs had only the chase instinct, but apparently not the bite and kill ones.
A BOOK you may enjoy is Stormy Weather by Julette Jiles, set in Texas during the Great Depression (1930s).
Jile's characters have spunk and gritty humor. While reading the book, I thought about my grandmothers, who were young women during the time period of the book. My daily work seems easy compared to the toil of earlier people. In Texas they faced dust storms and the hardships of cleaning, of winters with only a wood stove, of privations and risks during farm and oil-field work. One summer during the Midwest Dust Bowl, my grandmother soaked sheets in water and pinned them over windows, trying to keep blowing soil from racing through cracks in wood window frames. Where she farmed with her husband along the Missouri River, the soil was sandy and loose, easily fluffed by the wind. How she kept three young sons safe while living within a quarter mile of the mighty river will remain a mystery to me.
My grandfather Arnold had his 95th birthday in June. While reading Stormy Weather, I realized how Grandpa had become stoic, having had his boyhood during the Great Depression. A couple years before the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Grandpa was a youth working as a bicycle messenger for Western Union.
When I was young, I watched Grandpa's hobby of being a Rock Hound, searching for his favorites, Montana agates. To have had his love during my life has been such a blessing. He once made a doll-sized apartment building (with twenty rooms!) for my sister and me, when we were in grade school.
Thank you, Grandpa. My other grandparents and my father have passed away. How lucky I am to have to have my grandfather in my life.
Addition of July 2008:
I was away from home for almost two weeks to help with my grandfather’s home hospice care and funeral. This fine gentleman passed away at age 96, preceded in death by his wife of sixty-three years, my grandmother Dolores. His Norwegian eyes were pale blue like melted ice in mountain brook. Always I will miss him and my dear grandmothers.
As for commissions, I finished painting Evie, the fourth of four grandchildren that I have painted for one family. For my own ideas, I finished a new devotional oil painting of Mary and baby Jesus. Though a cold spell in April harmed my iris bed, I found several white and yellow iris blooms to use for painting life studies. I have also been glazing oil paint on sepia photographs of a tulip garden.
I will take some paintings to Lewis Art Gallery in Omaha, Nebraska.
This is the first month in which I began to offer miniature paintings, prints and handcolored photos on eBay, where my user name is nancyleemoran.
"Fragrant Grace," the white iris painted in oil above this entry, is an example of a life study.
Many artists use photos as references for their artworks. To paint from life, without photos, has benefits for the artist, since the human eye sees differently than does a camera - in its perception of edges, colors, and values (light and dark). For an artist, painting from life is similar to a pianist practicing piano scales. Life studies are often painted on a small canvas, like an 8x10 or 6x8, small enough for the artist to finish in one or two days.
Since it is too difficult for children to "sit" (to hold still to pose for a portrait painting), I usually take some photos for my portrait work.
Flowers, however, like to "sit" still (though petals often unfurl and curl gradually). For my life studies, I bring flowers into my studio. Other times I go to the country to paint small scenes. For myself and for other artists, such practice brings fresh sensitivity and insights, which enhances art later created from photos.
Each miniature life study is authentic and one-of-a-kind. Each has a charm of its own, reflecting as it does the artists response to the beauty of nature. In my floral logo on my About Me, I painted each of the nature items from life, each on a different day, making a spring wreathe in watercolor.
Please send your questions and requests to Nancy
by email: email@example.com
or phone: 402-274-3040