Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Art Imitates Art

Art © Ellen Blonder
Brush handmade by Isabella Kirkland

One of the most unusual gifts I have ever received is this hand-made brush made by the extraordinary artist Isabella Kirkland. The startling thing about it is that the hairs of the brush are taken from her cat Dandelion's shed fur. The brush is even named "Dandy #12" since it's the twelfth brush she has made in this series.

The hairs are aligned precisely and glued in place on the black bamboo handle; when the brush is dipped in liquid the brush comes together in a beautiful fine point. It feels much softer against paper than a sable brush but holds a surprising amount of paint. 

To finish off what was already an incredible amount of meticulous work, Isabella hand-lettered the name on the side of the brush and topped it off with a perfectly sized carnelian from a local beach.

I tried it out in my watercolor sketchbook on a sketch of olives; then I painted the brush itself. It felt like making art imitate art. 

Thank you, Izzy. I will treasure this always.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


 ©Ellen Blonder
And now for something entirely different...

Often it feels necessary to loosen up, and I thought a monoprint workshop would help. The teacher was the delightful Cindy Miracle (check out her website here), whose own work provided beautiful inspiration, and whose depth of knowledge and gentle manner made the day fly by.

Each print is 8 x 10 inches, inked in water-soluble inks on plexiglass plates. 

 ©Ellen Blonder
In addition to the inks, we used alcohol sprays, stencils and scratching tools.

 ©Ellen Blonder
Something I found irresistible was adding layers of papers, glued between the printing paper and ink, in a technique called chine colle.

 ©Ellen Blonder
Years ago, I became interested in scribbly textures, and the plates provide a great medium for that.

 ©Ellen Blonder
Some of these feel unfinished, so I hope to either return to the workshop to print additional layers or sketch over the print.