Saturday, February 27, 2010

a journal entry from a long time ago, a haunting, of sorts.

oh ...

rot. that's what i heard everytime i stood in the west studio. i had to cross to get supplies. then i forgot the razor blades, then the alcohol, back and forth, open the window. back and forth and suddenly 'rot' pops into my head. as if someone were saying 'oh rot.'. it is an old persons voice. smells musky. straggly hair, greased with sweat on top. three teeth show, the rest rotted stumps. 'rot'
smudged the space and rot settled down.

the studio air seemed to be milky today. as if the fog had seeped inside. it seemed to swirl and settle as i moved through. i thought they might have burned meat in the blackburn. lakshmi didn't smell burnt meat. she smelled incense. it sounded like there were folks upstairs (there is no upstairs). heard some men talking and doors opening and closing. there are more folks in the building; however these sounds were 'in' and 'of' my studio space. there are a lot of them.

may  2001


ps:  there were also echoes of children playing in the building, chasing balls, and the voices would trail off.

ghosts  an over active imagination.  i don't know.  but the milky air settled back into the space the day i left there for good.  i smudged to cleanse, and i 'saw' it roll back in and settle.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday "W" today a wip (work in progress) completed

Goodmornin', a drawing
aluminum leaf, sharpie marker, litho crayon on aluminum flashing 5x5"

Copyright debbie clarke
gloucester ma

this is a self portrait from the computer screens point of view.  yup, coffee in one hand, finger on the mouse, and everything hasn't quite settled into place.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Twos

Two Things:

2 recent visitors to the nest arrived here from a google search for "Flounder Ally".  an ally?  or alley?  I looked for Flounder Alley and discovered it was at the intersection of Broad Street and Atlantic Avenue in Boston.  long gone alley, gone to urban renewal, fill, expressway.  have not been able to find it on a map, but found references to peeps that dwelled there.  I worked at 89 Broad Street back in the late seventies/early eighties.  Norm and I once shared a conversation about Boston Harbor.  we were talking about risk management.  he told me a story about his fears and lng tankers, and today the Yemeni Tanker made port in Boston.  and I saw the the profile of the lng terminal under construction, 3 miles out, as i crossed our Stacey Boulevard today.


a big shoutout to Captain Joey and friends at Goodmorninggloucter!  coming up on a million hits!  Way to Go! the brainchild of neighbor Capt Joey of  Captain Joe's Lobster.  He has created a terrific community resource that i am so pleased to be a part of.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday's Marketing resource

Mondays will be a day for the mailbag postings, and/or marketing adventures for this artist.  and todays great new resource, soon to appear in this blog:  Pages!  yup, static stand alones, and that's what i'm gonna do.  soon.  right now, house cleaning. windows open, the air is clear and fresh, with a hint of spring on the backside.

oh, here's the link for my future ref on how to.

blogger buzz: create pages

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seurat Drawings

I always remembered Seurat drawings as being litho crayon on paper.  I was wrong!  He preferred conte crayon with some mixed media from time to time.  They have the 'feel' of a litho crayon drawing.  I think I will do a conte drawing and a litho drawing this week to compare the two media. 

The drawing is Seurat's "Pierrot and Columbine".

Miscellaneous Notes: Recipe for making Litho Crayons

A recent guest of the nest arrived from a google search for a litho crayon recipe, one of my drawing tags is litho crayon, that's the link to the search result.  I thought the inquiry interesting enough to track down a recipe for making litho crayons.  My first handy reference, always in my studio at hand, is Ralph Mayer's 'handbook'.  The handbook is well indexed with 5 references for litho crayon under lithography.  There are numerous recipes under miscellaneous notes page 580-582  (fifth edition) for the making of litho crayons.  the basic ingredients are wax, soap, lamp black.  the recipe need not be exact.  the instructions are straight forward with excellent information about the properties of each ingredient.

I'm not a lithographer.  I use the crayons for drawing on paper and glass.  William Korn's litho crayons meet all of my needs, and they are graded.  i prefer #3 and #4.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blog Catalog

This link will take you to my page on blogcatalog.  I signed up there a few weeks back, and forgot to go back to poke around.  The page looks great!  I signed up because the blogcatalog newsletter is full of brilliant tips of use to bloggers, those wishing to establish a web presence,  video blogs and  all kinds of useful stuff for likeminded folk.  With no participation on my part, other than just signing up I have gotten several visitors and return visitors from my listing.  I like their page set-up of my blog better than mine!  and it is free!

I am impressed and I am going to go back and poke around.

oh, well.  poked around to find the social twits were sketchy and lots of beautiful girl updates.  too bad.  guess i just won't go to that part of the site.


ps:  i will leave my site link there.  i like the look and feel.

next focus for this webbed  citizen:  put prices on my work..

Rembrandt Yellow!

Palette:  Rembrandt Yellow
oil on panel
copyright clarke 2010
gloucester ma

no iinspiration?  no such thing.  art is 99% persperation, 1% inspiration.  and when i don't have a lot of available time, no major 'projects' going on, i play around. and in these palette paintings i accomplish two things:  i get to paint, and discover a bit about my medium.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Artist Studio Space

I've been looking around to see what the town has to offer for studio space.  this is the courtyard side of the Blackburn Building at the corner of Maine & Washington Streets.  I looked at 3 space.  a room with no windows, but close to facilities. a penthouse with great western light, a fireplace, close to facilities.  a large room in the extension without facilities, but one can go downstairs, outside, take the elevator and facilities are available.  rock bottom prices:  $250 - $800.  no thank you. i used to have a the 4th floor northwest corner of this building.  i moved out because of ghosts and the smell of burnt meat.  oh, the racoons also made the roof outside my window into their mess.  



Palette:  Permanent Green
copyright clarke 2010
gloucester ma
oil on panel with litho crayon

pthalo is an amazing pigment, it can be found in paints with hues ranging from yellowish green, to rose, to green, to the darkest blue.  one of my favorites, but it creeps on the palette, and if one is not careful it will get into every mix.  good practices and lots of rag for a clean brush helps!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Suggested palette set-up for oil painting

I will be posting a palette set-up with pic over the next few days in response to a question from Paul (capeannpainter) here's my color line-up:

2 yellows: one light and bright, one dark. my choices: cad yellow light, cad medium, yellow ochre, raw or burnt umber

2 reds: one light and bright, one dark. choices: cad red light, grumbacher red, alizarin crimson

2 blues: one light and bright, one dark. choices: cobalt blue, pthalo blue. i rarely use ultramarine except to mix a violet.

other colors: burnt sienna: the only dark orange there is.

green: pthalo green and viridian. i only use these when i can't mix the color from the above blue/yellow choices.

titanium white, original formula pre-test (grumbacher)

black: ivory for a cool palette, mars black for a warm palette. i rarely use black, but it has its place.

when i start i determine my palette by what is before me.


and once again, everything you might want to know about, mixing and a bit more, I recommend Helen Van Wyck's Color Recipes.  you can click through to via this link and i will get a few pennies should you order, or order your book through your local booksellar.  My local bookstore is The Bookstore on Main Street in Gloucester MA, tell them Debbie sent you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The way through the Blue Madonna: an iconographer's beginning

The Blue Madonna: a glass icon

circa 1995, written through me.

My interest in the use of gold leaf goes back to a contemporary fresco 'fragment' that i saw in a Boston show.  don't remember the gallery, don't remember the artist, but i remember the light of the gold.  I used gold decoratively on paper and driftwood , then abandoned it.  years later i discovered Peruvian Imports  verre eglomise hand mirrors, trays and household accessories.  This ignited a desire to combine my love of reverse glass painting with metal leaf.  This is one of my first attempts, loosely based on a fascination with the "Black Madonna".  The black madonna is an icon that deepens with age, eventually turning 'black'.  some of the discoloration towards black may be the inherent nature of the pigments to change over time, the presence of silver may cause a darkening, and the accumulation of  soot from the candles used to illuminate the madonna.

in theological terms an icon is a prayer written through paint and color.  the iconographer listens with an inner ear and in cooperation with the holy spirit 'writes' the image.  all colors have theological meaning.  god calls the iconographer, and all one needs to do to become an iconographer is to copy another icon, the spirit will direct the work.

in this Blue Madonna, i answered a call, but did not know the way.  since this beginning i have gone on to study and teach the way of the icon through workshops offered through my art studio.

as always,
this work is offered up for the comfort of the people.

if you are interested in learning more about glass icon painting, here is an excellent youtube link to the master Byzantine glass iconographers.

questions/comments welcomed by leaving a note here or email to:

From the Mailbag

A few years ago I was playing around with some video clips made with my $100 kodak camera.  Windows Movie Maker couldn't produce the video due to resolution/light issues, so I downloaded a trial home movie maker with a pre-loaded, wacky video editor.  The video I produced gives directions for making egg glue, also known as glair, which is a glue that can be used to adhere gold leaf to a panel.  Last week I received some good questions from Scott Songfeather, a self-taught iconographer: 

following are his questions and my response:

"Researching verre eglomise I was pleased to discover the vids of you at work with the technique and your blog.

1. Is the ratio of snow/crushed ice to the egg white critical? How much snow to egg white is good?

answer:  the ratio isn't critical. I use about 2 tablespoons of snow/crushed ice.
2. Should the egg glue be used immediately, while still cold from the snow/ice?

answer:  the glue sets up to tack pretty quickly and can be used immediately, but it is better to let it sit refrigerated for 24 hours.  the albumen coagulate (chelaga) and other residue should be strained out to create a glue that will flow smoothly onto the surface to be gilded.

3. Is snow/ice necessary, or will water substitute satisfactorily?

answer:  Ralph Mayer in "The Artist's Handbook" has a recipe using 1-2 tablespoons of water. I have never used this recipe, so I don't know the results.  If Ralph says it works, it will work.

I paint icons in egg tempera and recently discovered online the Romanian technique of icon painting reversed on glass (verre eglomise/hinterglasmalerie) and plan to try it. Thus these questions.

Thanks, and best wishes,
Scott Songfeather

Scott provides some excellent pics and directions for writing icons under the username Celadonite on wet canvas. follow this link for his info.

If you have a question/comment that you would like to see answered through this blog, you can leave a comment here or email me at


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Plan B Fishing Vessel

Thanks to capeannpainter Paul Frontiero for this link showing how the sein boat gets loaded onto the Plan B. awesome.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Studio Library: Hawthorne on Painting

This is a collection of critiques given by Charles Hawthorne to his students in Provincetown.  The criticques were gathered by Mrs. Charles Hawthorne.  Small, simple concise.  One spot of color against another spot of color.  One shape against another.  Don't worry about the drawing.  One correct size, shape and color against another and another creates a painting. 

Whether you want to learn to paint or just understand how painters "see"; this is a must.  a constant painter's companion and recommendation to all of my painting students.

Once again you can click through here to Amazon to purchase, and I will get a few pennies for your efforts.  or, Order from your local booksellar.  My local bookstore is The Bookstore on Main Street in Gloucester.  There is a clickable link in my sidebar.  Tell them Debbie sent you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Art and Ready Made

This is the image from designer's daily.  The article can be found on the following link.  This fly is embossed on the urinals in Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, it is the logo for a porcelein urinal manufacturor (need company name).  Guys aim for the fly!  it cuts down on spillage with a sweetened environment, with a lot less slippage for the guys.  I wonder if they use down the wharf at Capt Joeys.

and if you want to buy a decal:  a 10 pack is $9.99!
the link to that is here:

Local Colors coop members used to have lengthy discussions about what is original art, and what kind of art did we not want.  A photolithographer applied. The subject cars.  there were lithos, posters, cards, very commercial, very marketable, but did not seem to fit in with our idea of original art.  but, what did we mean.  a group agreed to meet to come up with a definition for what we meant by 'original art':  thorpe feidt, ashley thompson, debbie clarke, jay mcglaughlin, sue anne? mollie? rebecca?  we met one night a week (or was it one night a month?) to discuss the thorney issue. 

we ended with this:

Marcel Duchamp's "Readymade" signed R. Mutt.  We could not not give a concise definition of original art, but we all agreed this urinal is art.  however, selling pics of it, is not art.  a pictorial such is this is part of our trade goods:  commercial, not for sale, for give aways.  unless you become famous, then museums etc, get to sell pics of the famous work and make a profit, and the original becomes even more famous.  so, we were not going to allow the sale of photo cards of the work, unless somehow manipulated by the artist's hand into a 'new' original art. 

 I hear Audrey Flack in "Art and Soul":  to paraphrase, art is a new thing added to the universe, something that did not exist before in its present form.

click my amazon link to purchase the book and i will get a few pennies for your efforts.  or you can order from your local bookseller, my local bookstore is The Bookstore.  a clickable link to The Bookstore is in my other places list.  tell them debbie sent you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The wip (work-in-progress): Paul Frontiero continued. or how i got from there to here

Paul Frontiero, continued verre eglomise demo as seen on the demonstration videos.  from top to bottom:  the canvas backing is overed in aluminum leaf that is adhered to the damp gesso.  2) the glass panel placed on top of the gilded canvas before the glass is scraped. 3 and 4 are details of the head with the aluminum leaf showing through.  5) toning the aluminum leaf with the darkest orange:  burnt sienna 6) the current state of this work in progress.  Today I will make some gelatin slurry and place some mirrored shapes.  pics to follow.  Paul is aka the Cape Ann Painter here's a link to his blog.