Bit o’ Honey ~ the little things that please

The little things that please . . .

Posts Tagged ‘Art

Fun with Lines

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“The hand is the window on to the mind.” Immanuel Kant, from Richard Sennet’s book, “The Craftsman”.

“Play is the beginning of knowledge.”  George Dorsey



Wanting to step back from glass after finishing my last project and needing to bring a fresh approach to the medium, I decided to dabble with the left over watercolors I used to create the many mock-ups for my Tree of Life images.  

Save for childhood forays in tempera, I’ve never been a painter.  Painting always seemed so unbound to me, so wild.  The stuff seemed to have an oozing, dripping life of its own.  Frankly, I found it intimidating.  There were too many choices with painting, too much white paper to contend with, too many ways to apply the paint, too many chances for things to turn to an ugly mess.  Not to mention the plethora of brushes.  While stained glass can be a frustrating in its rigidity and inability to blend, I’ve learned to appreciate the restrictions it imposes and the ever-present black lines that serve to join each piece of glass.  But painting?

Fortunately, the watercolors I made for my last project introduced me to the idea that I might use painting to explore design ideas for glass.  So on a rainy Sunday afternoon, unable to face the mess still waiting to be expunged from my studio, I took out the paints and commenced to play.

I began with the simplest of lines using two different brush widths, the only two I had, just to get a feel for things.


I never grow tired of green.


I found the activity to be surprisingly meditative and intimate, much like writing a letter.




I quickly slipped into my modus operandi and began simplifying the lines even further.





And further still . . .




Until I was left with a single line.



I found the mood of this line appealing.  It struck me as somewhat calligraphic.  



I was then reminded of the gorgeous nameplate on a Tiffany window from 1887 that I recently helped restore.  Here’s a close-up photo of the nameplate in reflected light:


The leadwork is mindboggling.  To accommodate the letters, the craftsman cut the glass in the most challenging of ways, in some cases working with pea-sized glass.  Note the little scroll details in the curves of the 6’s.  Astounding.  This image is not far that from its actual size.  Truly the work of a master.  Set against natural light this delicious lavender glass becomes a phenomenal, firey wonder:


R and I have not stopped going ga-ga over this window.  


It would be easy for me to go on and on about the glass, but Iet me return to the lines in this nameplate.  Most interesting are how the black lines serve as an integral part of the design itself and not merely a structural element to the window.  Though more compact and blockier than my watercolor lines, they too look calligraphic, not so unlike the work below:


See what I mean?


While I experiment with color and shape using paints, I’m also trying to find a way of giving the black lines more significance in my designs.  I’m not sure where this exploration is going, but I plan to continue this watercolor play in hopes of bringing a new dimension into my work.  

At the very least I’m producing my own line of original greeting cards . . .





Written by Janie

September 18, 2008 at 8:09 am


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For all my skepticism in jumping on the latest technological trends, some friends are surprised I have a blog, including myself.  But for us creative folks blogs are a great way to reach an audience we might not find otherwise.   Like websites and other online venues, blogs free the work of writers and artists from dark drawers and solitary studios, offering it up to unsuspecting surfers, insomniacs and kindred spirits.  I’m continually surprised by ways people use blogs and the inspired by those who write them, but I do wish there were a more poetic name for the activity.

Take, for instance, BlueBicicletta.  I stumbled on her blog as I was creating my own, searching for examples of how bloggers were combining text and images.  An artist living in Davis, California, BlueBicicletta posted photos of her paintings, drawings and personal thoughts in a way that was honest without being confessional — no small thing, mind you.  Art, nature and relationships all make it into her blog, and like me she struggles to blend those passions with her working life.  I was particularly struck by her ink drawings, some reminding me of designs I’d made for my own windows.  I found more examples of art on her Flickr account.  The work is playful and unpretentious, the simple shapes and bold black lines refreshing.  Sometimes words serve as the main content, written in the same unfussy style as her drawings.   As an early birthday gift bought myself a drawing called “Tulip”, from a series of vessels.


It was tough choosing which of the series I wanted, but I went with my first instinct.  


The image is wholly feminine, but what I love most is the muscular interior that gives body and strength to its delicate shape.  Maybe its the fringed crown, but there’s a regal quality to the piece that became more apparent once it was framed and mounted to the wall.  Even the tulip’s poise – upright and open, filled to the rim – symbolizes those qualities I want to embody in the last half of my life.

So happy birthday to me and thanks BlueBicicletta!


Written by Janie

July 25, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Posted in Art

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