Apple (blossom) Time


acrylic inks, gesso, maps, Masa paper, etc collage, pen’n’ink on w/c paper

On Saturday I started a new mixed media workshop series in my studio.  The theme - Inks and Gesso!  Playing with them on paper – squirting, smooshing, scraping, rollering, finger painting, combing, splattering, etc.

I had this painting “start” which was reds and greens and reminded me of a brightly colored plate of food. Maybe I was hungry. I have a foodie magazine and started cutting out pictures of food.  But the only one that seemed right was the apple.  In Sebastopol, CA where I live, the biggest celebration of the year is the Apple Blossom Festival and parade down Main St.  Here is Sonoma County we celebrate grapes and wine year round, but when the apple blossoms burst out, the old fashioned apple trumps everything else for a while.


Bird Sunday


Falconer Sara with her redtailed hawk, Enola, at Armstrong Woods in Guerneville, CA

Isn’t she beautiful?!  We got to sketch Enola in the redwoods before heading out to Goat Rock beach, in the second session of Bird Arting with Jonqui Albin, sponsored by the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods.


Myself, Suzanne Edminster and Karen Mason bundled up and at the beach sketching those impossibly fast flying gulls, cormorants and terns.  Those lumps on the beach in the background are the harbor seals and their pups. Just draw a tube and put some eyes in it!


9 X 12″ pen and w/c sketch

Our reward. . .a delicious lunch at Cape Fear Restaurant in Duncans Mills and time to sketch people and share pens and paints with each other.  I love the way this woman looks like she’s biting her nails, which seems to go with the title “Cape Fear” even though that was unintentional. She was eating, after all.


Sketchbook Skool

I got back from Portland earlier this week and heard that my painting buddy had started Danny Gregory’s new 6 week online sketch workshop, Sketchbook Skool, and immediately signed up, not wanting to miss out on the fun.  I used to teach a lot of sketchbook workshops and one can always learn something new!  Actually as I recall, it was Danny Gregory who first incited me to sketch things like worn old tennis shoes and the contents of my breakfast plate.

The Sketch Skool started a week ago, but you could still catch up, if you haven’t already enrolled. I didn’t have time for sketchbook shopping, so I found a still pristine 9 X 12″ Mix Media Canson sketchbook on my shelf and inaugurated it.  Over the years I’ve collected an insane number of pens, brushes, paints, etc. So I decided to tackle this rather large sketchbook with a variety of things, as if sketching for the first time!


Being a very practical sort I started by using some of the leftover paint from my stay wet palette which had been moldering away while I was on vacation.  The first week’s homework is to sketch your daily life, with words about your thoughts/feelings.  I learned that the paper was too thin for using a dip pen, since it leaks through – good to know. And the black Pentel brush leaked all over my hand as I held it.


A few minutes sketching in the garden in the afternoon and after dinner, forgetting for a while whatever I was “supposed” to be doing instead.  Once I started copying Rumi poetry I could have kept going for pages!  And then I followed Bob into the family room.


 Started with a Uni Ball Vision pen and switched to a Sharpie for a more defined line.

He would be appalled to hear me say this, but yes, sketching beats out watching a basketball game most of the time.  However I may have to put down my pen for a few minutes during a Downton Abbey.


Garden Sprite


acrylic ink on crinkled Masa paper collaged and mounted on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

garden sprite, bloom miss

your fingers in every inch of green

one day you sow

next day you sprout

next day it rains and you

don your blossomy bonnet 

dance through the wet grasses

singing your ancient fertility songs

your brush loads with fresh pigment

colors drip off your fingers and bleed from your feet

fragrances rain down from your open mouth

you cock your ears to signal frog choruses

and bird symphonies

garden sprite, spring’s favorite emissary

It is that time of year again when I wish I were a wild animal and could spend each day outside.  Instead my days consist of errands run in cars and chores in the house and studio and brief tastes of blossomy, green grassy, muddy earthed sweetness in the in betweens. It all happens too quickly, this sudden bursting out of life, as though there were some mad caffeinated conductress orchestrating it all, with no compassion for those of us who would like to savor each moment.

I’m heading off to Portland, OR for a long weekend starting tomorrow, visiting my son and friends there.


Occular Guardians


acrylic inks, collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Sometimes I get goose bumps when, in the process of totally random and playful art making, I am suddenly struck by the convergence of shapes, colors, textures, line, symbols, etc that create a waking dream message.

For example.  I was anticipating another eye treatment for a condition of swelling in the retina.  My experience of this occular phenomena is that I see a shimmering shape of a raptor-like bird in hovering position.  Lately I’ve been watching “bald eagle TV”, the web cam of the bald eagle nest in Georgia.  (watch this at your own risk, it’s addictive!) It’s so up-close-and-personal, watching the eagle mom caring for her chick, that you start to feel her feathers and gentle nudging. . .at least I do.

Last week I was demonstrating applications of acrylic inks onto wet paper, scraping etc. and was painting around a circle of white.  At some point it started looking like the medical pictures I’ve seen of my eye. I went to my collage file and found a comic strip picture of me and National Geo magazine featuring eagles. Bingo!

You see, I have always felt that this eye obstruction was somehow presided over by the creature whose shape it took – a benevolent event in other words.  After all who has better sight, better perspective from their perch in the upper stories of life, than the regal eagle?


March/April Issue of the Imagine With Art Newsletter!

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Get your free copy of the March/April issue of the Imagine With Art Newsletter with suggestions for art play with LINE and updates on workshops, demos, and other events. Click on the image to read it.


Last chapter: Bahamas


These Bahamians have a thing for color.  I mean the interior walls of the little airport at Marsh Harbor are bright salmon and lime green.  And the historic kerosene fueled lighthouse in Hope Town with its candy cane exterior is hot pink and green on the interior!  It’s enough to make a sketchbooker froth at the mouth.  And the sea is so many constantly shifting shades of green and blue that I found my little two by three inch watercolor travel palette to be insufficient to the task.  I needed a Cobalt Teal and a Cobalt Blue Violet and any number of other exotic pigments. We walked up to the top of the lighthouse for a 360 degree view of the harbor, but couldn’t sketch from there, so here’s a photo:


It was a day for sailing so we headed over to Man O War, a neighboring island with another lovely marina. We were hungry and stopped in at the Dock n Dine restaurant on the wharf for lobster (deep fried) BLT’s and sweet potato french fries.  This was not a time to worry about cholesterol.

bahamas13The dinghy (pictured here with the  motor on it) was the mode of transportation from sailboat to dock.  Man O War turned out to be a particularly great place to view interesting sailboats, some of them hand crafted in the historic manner.

I will end with the most adventuresome day when the sea finally tossed me and my cookies, if you know what I mean.  I had been wearing those bracelets with the buttons that activate the acupuncture point which prevents nausea, and taking the homeopathic remedy for motion sickness while sailing.  But it was a particularly windy day and Brit and Sandy wanted to take us out to a reef where the snorkeling was particularly good, which it was!  I think this picture, sketched later by an active imagination,  will finish the story.


That night we came back by way of another island called Lubber Quarters and stopped at Cracker Pi’s for the famed full moon feast and party. The definition of the word “lubber” is

1. a big clumsy, stupid person: lout

2. an awkward or unskilled sailor.

Both fit me quite nicely that day.


Is there anything more magical than a full moon sail?  I am still under the spell and hope to never forget.


Here we are, Liz, Sandy and me, wishing you a happy springtime from our coffee deck in the Bahamas.

In conversations with the Muse I mix paint with vision, collage with story, word with meditation and prayer. And out of the mixture comes a release of energy and healing and a lightening of the load of everyday living. You'll find most of it here, where I've been showing up for the past few years, along with collectible paintings, travel sketchbooks, figure studies and an invitation to join me in art play and discovery!

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By Susan Cornelis

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All images and text are the original copyrighted work of Susan Cornelis unless otherwise attributed.


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