After sharing many art stories, personal memories, and my creative process through this blog over the past few years, I’ve made the move to a more visual platform. Please join me on Instagram @ashley_wolff_art to see my newest works-in-progress, creative explorations, books and more. The story continues…
Elizabeth Deanne Ibold, born November 10, 1928, at about 3 years old.
My mom, Elizabeth Deanne Ibold Wolff van de Velde, died on May 16, 2018 and I couldn’t manage to write a thing for 6 months. Then I wrote the 1st draft of this post.
Then I stopped again until today. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, 2020 and in 8 days it will be the 2nd anniversary of her death.
Why did it take me so long to be able to write this?
Is this how grief works?
Despite the fact that her family was not Catholic, Elizabeth Deanne Ibold (now known to her friends as “E-Dee”) went to school at The Sacred Heart Academy in Chicago for 13 years, k-12.
My mom loved being a mom, but she was also smart, ambitious and restless in her 1950s role as ‘Mid-Century mommy’.
She opted to stop at 2 children in an era of large families.
She wanted to DO things but her degree in art history wasn’t proving useful. She volunteered far and wide through the 60s and eventually, in the 70s, she settled her passion on the Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association. She became an EMT, a crew chief and ultimately attended Dartmouth to become one of the 1st Physician’s Assistants in 1974. It was around this time that she dropped one of the Ns in Deanne and became Deane to my sister and me and almost all her friends.
Her career in medicine focused on women’s health and included dozens of baby deliveries, as well as family medicine, years working for Planned Parenthood and The Shorewell Health Center. She was even Physician’s Assistant to Ben and Jerry at the Charlotte Family Health Center in the mid-80s!
She retired at 60 and changed her specialty to being an extraordinary Granny and an artist in multiple mediums.
Deane’s excellent Scottish Shortbread
1 C softened butter
3/4 C confectioners sugar
1.5 C flour
.25 C cornstarch
1/8 t salt
mix, press into a sheet pan, 1” thick
Bake at 325 for 45 mins.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, and
Happy trails to you, until we meet again. ~Dale Evans Rogers
Liz Garcia, a friend from Hollins University days and now a doctoral student in the Center for Children’s and YA Literature at the University of Tennessee had the brilliant idea of adding an original, reading related mural to the new quarters of CCYAL. She invited me to submit a proposal and we went from there.
Two new kids moved in down the road. They are black and white and have cunning little hooves. Their names are Thor and Clementine.
Goat kids have a certain vibe that enchants me. They are more playful than your average farm animal–leaping, frisking and gamboling, climbing on trees, seesaws and even children! They appear all over the place and my eye and paintbrush are always drawn to them.
Maybe because I grew up in a Vermont-a landlocked state.
Sure, we had Lake Champlain, where I spent my childhood summers. It has a shore but not exactly a beach.
The unpredictability of what the restless waves wash up on shore gives an ocean beach LIFE!
Nowadays there is a LOT of plastic, which is part what got me started making these beach portraits.
I have found so much trash on the numerous beaches I’ve combed-from California to the Virgin Islands, and Italy to Maine. Along with the trash I always find intriguing shells, feathers, bones, and exoskeletons.
Using these elements I began making portraits of invented characters. I didn’t alway name them, but this one spoke up and said her name was Richard Thompson’s mythical Cooksferry Queen.
So, next time you find yourself on a beach-any beach, find a bag or bucket, pick up any trash and other interesting flotsam you find and make your own beach portrait. Snap a photo, give him/her/they a name, and finally, remove all the trash and leave the remnants of the face to nature.
This fall I discovered Paper Clay–and boy, have I been having fun with it. I found I could make multiples of objects by making an original and then a mold. I love dogs, but their heads are all different shapes and sizes. Cats are relatively uniform in shape, and by applying wildly different paint jobs, I could create a whole herd of them.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love Border Collies. I admire the intelligence that shines through in their gaze and their graphic markings that make them extra fun to draw and paint.
Recently I was lucky to be commissioned by his doting mama to paint a portrait of Rocket, a handsome western fellow. Lori sent a variety of photos and I chose several to work from. I liked his face in one and the aspen forest background from another.
I worked on a Dick Blick wooden panel–the 6″ x 12″ format seemed especially good for this subject and I knew my Holbein Acryla Gouache paints would look great. I can paint all four edges of this panel to become part of the work of art and they are light and easy to hang, even in a tight space.
As usual, I start with loose shapes and brushwork and work tighter as I home in on the particular details of this animal. I’ve found that the eyes, ears, and mouth convey a dog’s personality most clearly.
Even at this stage I found I needed to dash in some new areas of warmth to set up the complementary contrasts.
Above and below see how the deep edges of the panel become part of the artwork. I keep them more abstract than the main image but large landscape elements carry over.
The finished portrait of Rocket in the Aspen Grove with a lucky ladybug as the final touch.
If you’ve enjoyed this and want to order a portrait of your favorite companion, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
After a long Vermont winter we all get a little blue.
We all need to get outside! We need to leave our coats and hats and boots behind. We need to wear sneakers, ride bikes, see some green, roll in the grass, play ball, ride a pony and dig in the garden. Spring fever is a real thing!
I recently visited the kindergartners at Orwell Village School and talked about writing and art, filling your page and adding detail. They must have soaked it all in–like spring sunshine. Today I received this video, made with the help of their wonderful teacher Josh Martin:
Process: Get an idea, do some research, make a sketch.
You know me and bears, we seem to be inseparable lately. So it wasn’t much of a leap to choose the lyrics to Teddy Bear’s Picnic as my inspiration. This version by Anne Murray is lovely, but beware–it is a major earworm!
I did a rough little pencil sketch, added some color and was set to do the finish.
I painted a sunny background, leaving the edges of the lid showing.
Once the background was dry I added the bears, flowers and more flowers.
Some bees create the lines for the text: Today’s the Day the Teddy Bears Have their Picnic!
And what is a picnic basket without a yummy surprise inside?
This basket is beautifully lined with padded linen and has the nifty chain to keep the lid at a comfortable angle.
Making the handles jolly with multicolored stripes was the final touch.
Summer seems WAY far away in this neck of the woods, but I know it’ll come someday and If you go down to the woods today, you’d better not go alone!
It’s lovely down in the woods today, but safer to stay at home!
For ev’ry bear that ever there was will gather there for certain, because
Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic!