Happy New Year, Roosters!

2017 is the Chinese Year of the  Rooster.

When I lived in San Francisco-a very Asian city, Chinese  New Year was a festive and LOUD time of year: think firecrackers, bell ringing, lion dances and exotic parades.

This is a Fire Rooster year. Fire Roosters are traditionally trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work. The other types are Wood Roosters, Earth Roosters, Gold Roosters and Water Roosters.

On the whole, Roosters are active, amusing, popular, healthy, outspoken, honest, loyal, talkative and charming. Many of my dearest friends are Fire Roosters.

Happy New Year, Roosters-

Cockadoodle~Doo!

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a Fire Rooster, painted with gouache on paper

Since Roosters are also chickens, this post will celebrate these fascinating and delicious animals-among my very favorite to observe and draw.

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A hen and rooster painted with gouache on brown paper

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rooster painted with gouache on paper

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a variety of poultry breeds drawn in colored pencil on brown paper

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Buff Laced Bantam Rooster painted in gouache on paper

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“Bless each wren, each rooster and hen” painted in gouache on black gesso. From the book: Home Sweet Home by Jean Marzollo and Ashley Wolff

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Little Things?

When I moved back to Vermont I wanted to get involved with my community so I volunteered my time to a small group that aims to make Middlebury more Merry during the month of December.

Nothing fancy or noble-just little, fun things to create community and get people outside, downtown and into local businesses.

There are cut-outs around town for kids to pose in,

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Hot cocoa for 75 cents,

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and Santa arrives on the firetruck.

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You can bring your presents to be wrapped at a local bar,

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Ride ride around town in a horse drawn cart,

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and do an I Spy search for 10 little ornaments, hidden in the windows of downtown shops.

My job has been to make the ornaments and arrange for them to be hidden. The 1st year I painted little reindeer

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The next year was little snow children,

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And this year I decided to paint little Baby Bears in Christmas garb.

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I know-it’s too early to be thinking about Christmas–but I had to.

Then the election happened and it’s been hard to concentrate and harder to smile.

I found myself painting very pensive Baby Bears, with safety pins like the one on my sweater in their fur.

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I know wearing a safety pin is kind of lame-especially out in the sticks where I live,

and I know I live in a practically all white state, with loads of privilege and 1st world problems,

and I know it is just a little thing to offer as resistance, but I am offering it with all my heart.

I will put my money, my voice and my body to stand up for everyone’s rights and civil liberties.

You are safe with me.

If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

 

Calavera Pumpkins

It is still early October, but I am already all about The Day of the Dead.

That’s because I’m having an art show for a series of paintings I did after my beloved Tula died of Lymphoma 2 years ago.

Her death, so close to Halloween and the “falling back’ of the clocks, the increasing cold and the darkness of winter made me feel a little panicky. I countered that with art therapy and it all flowed from one painting on a big, old wooden panel.

This year the sun is still out so I invited my  artist neighbor Warren over to play with me.

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I had an idea to make decorations for my show by making white pumpkins into containers for hot colored mums.

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We hollowed them out and carved them a bit as usual, and then used Liquitex acrylic paint markers and sharpies to decorate them to look like Mexican Calaveras.

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Warren claims his looks like me but I saw no likeness, but when we popped in the mums I changed my mind.

Skulls with flowery headdresses!!

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If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

Goodbye Old Year, Hello New!

Father Time and Baby New Year

The old to the new,

The beard to the baby,

the wrinkled to the plump,

The tired to the fresh.

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Father Time and Baby New Year from Frolic & Fun, 1897

What a weird, but wonderful image for the turn of the new year.

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The old is always to the left, the new to the right.

I wanted to make my own version, so I used my own Baby Bear as the New year’s baby and his older self as the old year.

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my quick thumbnail sketch

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pencil on watercolor paper, with 1st wash

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several washes-no line.

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painting with line and some photoshopping

And finally,  two older images of an infant Miss Bindergarten,

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and her grown up self wishing All Y’all

a Happy, Healthy 2016!

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Please share the joy, Y’all!

 

DIY Thanksgiving “Craft”

Consider the Blue Hubbard Squash.

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Do you see a Thanksgiving tradition?

Perhaps a savory side dish?

How about a centerpiece for the table?

How about the Mayflower?

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I scoured the web looking for another example of Blue Hubbard Squash turned Mayflower ship, but this was as close as I could come.

My dad had different ideas. He took a huge squash, hollowed it out and carved it into a ship. He made dowel masts and paper sails.

My mom filled it with tangerines and nuts and the Blue Hubbard Mayflower sailed out on Thanksgiving tables in the early 1960s.

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Thanksgiving in Ripton, VT 1962

And the next year, same sails, different squash!

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Thanksgiving 1963, Ripton, VT

You can see me, smiling, directly to the left of the Mayflower, on my dad’s lap.

Time passed, I grew up, and when I had children I wanted my own Blue Hubbard Mayflower centerpiece.

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San Francisco, 1997

 

Tutorial not included. This is truly DIY!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Making a Homemade Advent Calendar ~ Part 1

A couple of years ago I wrote about creating this advent calendar.

In my recent move I unearthed the original sketches so I thought I’d update with a process post.

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The full size sketch of the front, done in colored pencil.

My first Advent Calendars were completely handmade: cover image printed and hand-colored, window openings cut with a knife, window images printed and colored–all somehow fastened together to make a functioning calendar.

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the original 1983 calendar, given to Charlene Smith, and kept framed and displayed all year round. This one is less colorful a bit more austere.

I made fewer than 10 to give to friends, and I sent one to my editor at E P Dutton Children’s Books. She loved it, and suggested producing it to sell.

She asked me to show her sketches for the window images that had a more holiday feel than the original. Some of her suggestions were “Knitting Christmas Stocking?” and “kitten playing with ornament or pine spring?”
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Following her suggestions, I revised the sketches.

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Finally I carved each tiny scene, colored it and glued it into place

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Once the 2 layers are aligned, the scenes show up in the doors and windows.

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The finished calendar.

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Although this is out of print and no longer sold in stores. I have a stash to sell.

A Tree of Books

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I know–Waaaaay too early for Christmas, but that’s when these things get done. And it’s kinda fun making tree decorations on a blustery November day. And, of course, it’s for a good cause!

My fantastically talented and philanthropic neighbor, Warren Kimble, urged me to join him in creating a tree for the Sheldon Museum Christmas benefit, so of course I said yes.

It took me forever to think of a fun way to decorate my very attractive faux tree, but with the deadline looming, I finally made up my mind.

I make books for a living, so why not a Tree of Books?

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I followed the directions for the no sew, no adhesive book and made a whole bunch of these. I did use a glue stick to paste the letter to the  mini books.

I began with plain copy paper for the pages. I’ll show some of my steps, but follow this tutorial for all the details. I found this video tutorial for a more elaborate book too. It uses a little bit of glue.

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Fold your pages according to the directions.

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Then trim a piece of decorative paper for the book jacket. All it takes is some careful measuring and folding–no glue!

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I added a contrasting strip of washi tape to the spine.

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Finally I glued a letter from a sheet of decorative alphabet letters to the front cover.

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Once I tied on strings the little books spelled out:

M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S and H A P P Y  N E W  Y E A R

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