Splitter, Splatter, Splatt!

Are you familiar with this wild man Ralph Steadman, king of the ink splatters? I just got his book Critical Critters for Christmas and I’ve gone quite literally gonzo about it. We’ve been splattering and doing all kinds of unorthodox things with inks in Muse Groups for years now, but Ralph takes it to a whole new level of fabulous, raunchy absurdity in this book.

So with a new Playful Muse Workshop starting up on January 21 I’ve been trying some things out for a Gonzo Splatter lesson! One sometimes gets a little weary of being a “good girl”, all neat and careful and inside the lines, after all.

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I’m shooting for a day when it’s not raining so we can do the splatter part outside my studio, for obvious reasons. And I’ve been practicing with the mouth atomizer, another of Ralph’s tools, which requires a certain amount of lung power to operate (along with a lot of luck). I’m seeing a kind of rare endangered octopus in this one, but the swan sitting on his head is a bit distracting.

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You guessed it. This one took advantage of a straw technique you might be familiar with from nursery school. I understand that straws are themselves becoming endangered creatures, at least in some California restaurants. . .but I have an old box if you want one.

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8 days into the new year

explosions of mind detritus!

resolutions leaking from every pore and orifice

teaming up, multiplying, branching out. . .

GOOD RIDDANCE! (but pray they don’t find you. . .)

My weekend was spent in a meditation retreat where I made some small headway into clearing my mind, but OMG what came out in the process! Not for the faint of heart. But if some of my errant resolutions or worse come your way, remember to duck.

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This one was pure ink dropper play. You might take just a moment to halucinate on it before the next. . .

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This guy’s inner musician is celebrating the new year.

Now back to the octopus and swan. . .If this sounds like insanity it is, but no need to miss out on the fun on that account. Turn on the music and splatter! I think Ralph would approve.

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A Portrait Party!

I’ve been wanting to host a Portrait Party for all my fellow artists ever since I attended one at Arch Art Supply in San Francisco last spring. It was a gas! And this one will be held at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts in conjunction with the GO FIGURE art show which opens this Friday. I hope you can come. Details below. All are welcome!

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RESERVE YOUR SEAT

 

Deer Island with John Muir Laws

When the boys were little we were always going out to find pollywogs or caterpillars, shiny stones or interesting seed pods. So spending the day at yesterday’s meet up at Deer Island in Novato with naturalist John Muir Laws and the Nature Journaling Club was a great reminder of how much I enjoy getting out to some wilder areas and feeling that freedom of fresh air, birdsong, wind in the hair, and a million discoveries large and small.

deerisland1b pen, pencil and w/c in 8.25 X 5.5″ hand.book travelogue w/c sketchbook

Jack (nickname for John) started out by letting us all know that our goal was not to make lovely little paintings but to take visual notes of our observations, questions, sensory experiences, etc. Along the trail he invited us to explore, occasionally leading us in discovery and a method of delving deeper into the experience of the natural world. We sketched small and mostly standing so as not to interrupt the flow of discovery.

Among his suggestions were the “landscapito”, a drawing which is tiny enough to take mere minutes rather than an hour; annotations and arrows to say that which could not be sketched; and starting with a quick sketch of the trail map (which came in handy when my little group started to feel lost)

Walking a trail behind Jack is a novel experience. When he stops to take a closer look you are invited to look for the unexpected and formulate questions, like why are the leaves (which he measured with a tape measure from his bag) smaller on the bottom than the top of the tree? One suspects he knows the answer but prefers to get one noticing more, and soon a million questions and hypotheses come to mind and you’re noticing the smallest things popping into view everywhere you look! Not to mention your ears become more animal-ian and pick up sounds that were not audible before.

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This buckeye tree in its winter nakedness invited close examination by a several of us, enamored by its unique shape and jigsaw puzzled skin (bark). I might still be there sketching it, but we were already overdue for the lunch meet-up on the hilltop.

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Sketching along with Jack here on the hilltop, scribbling down his advise along with sounds and sensations, looking upward occasionally as one of the experienced bird watchers shouted out a sighting. Kite! Harrier! Sharpee! (sharp shin hawk)

By the way, if this sounds like your idea of fun, try one of Jack’s day outings or classes in how to sketch and paint all things in nature! I’m already looking forward to the next.

Stow Lake and Speed Chess

What’s all the ruckus about?! That’s what we wondered when a flock of noisy, quarrelsome Canada Geese landed near us at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, “elbowing out” all the other, more well behaved ducks.

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So I had to put the noisy ringleader into my already under way sketch. It was a gorgeous day to be out in the park, so I can imagine what they were upset about.

Later Janet and I wandered the Richmond searching for lunch and landed at the place with the line out the door – Cinderella! a Russian bakery and cafe where every other person was speaking Russian and the menu was an enticing culinary adventure.

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Christmas day in the afternoon the house was suddenly so quiet. My sons had discovered a new way to compete. Speed chess , but not so speedy that the sketch story couldn’t be told. I need more practice with those chess men though!

Christmas Postscript

I suspect that if you want to find the happiest people around Christmastime you might head for the places where people are offering holiday cheer to folks who can use it, like at homeless shelters and such. lrrsantaandjingles_1

Places like The Living Room, a day program that service homeless and at risk women and their children. I’ve been going there for the last month as a volunteer, talking with the participants and volunteers and sketching the stories. I never leave without feeling that I have new friends and feeling a lot better about “human nature” to see the generosity of the community and the friendly welcoming-ness of the women who find solace there.

Of course the Christmas party was putting smiles on everyone’s face, with all the food and singing and treats for the kids and Santa and his elf. Not only did the kids get to sit on Santa’s knee, but the moms and other adults did too, including some luminaries who were visiting, like two young Wine Country beauty queens, tiaras and all!

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Before the hot lunch and the cookies there were Santa hats, bagels and coffee and more.

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And then Christmas carols for the adults and the children.

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The moms and kids all went home with pictures taken with Santa. (and no, I didn’t have time to sketch this one on location, but did it later from a picture!)

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Jingles and Santa Tim insisted on posing with me and surprised me with a (blush) kiss!

For our family’s Christmas card this year I sketched a Santa from about 24 years ago, with Ben on his knee.

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Hope you and your family had a very merry Christmas!

Happy Winter Solstice

I celebrated with a sunny walk on Vine Hill School Rd. this afternoon, looking for the (poisonous) neon red/orange/yellow mushrooms with white polka dots which I’d seen days before. They had begun to lose some color and get a bit soggy. Many had collapsed, but I found one lovely candidate.

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It was a bit of a trick standing in the soggy uneven ground while negotiating a palette, leaky waterbrush, sketchbook and wrist wiper. But isn’t that the fun of it?! And truly this winter wet season here in California is the absolute best for nature journaling.

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I was lured outside on another day with somewhat gloomy skies between showers. Right around the corner from my house – a country road, red barn and vineyard. Looks peaceful enough, but the traffic of trucks rumbling by my spot at the side of the road was a bit disconcerting! In my rush the trees bled into the sky, which actually softened the distance quiet effectively.

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Andrew arrived home for the holidays after an exhausting trip from N.Y., ate some lunch, stretched out on the window seat and dozed off. He spends a lot of time in that spot when he’s home, as does Ben. So if I’m not getting out for some sketching, I can always have a model.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Celebrate!

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acrylic monoprint with collaged stamp prints on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

They say the heavenly angels are around this time of year with their hosannas and hallelujahs, exhorting us to celebrate a birthday with them. And today I noticed multitudes of mushrooms poking their heads up from their moist earth beds to join in.

The mushrooms are a divine wonder in this land of fires. Some of the outcroppings of ‘shrooms are so tiny I must use my reading glasses to see them. They remind me of childhood reveries where fairies inhabited the forest lands where I roamed. The moist earth is a heady concoction.

This monoprint is another piece from the “laboratory” of ideas I’m exploring for the next Playful Muse series of mixed media classes in my studio. It starts Monday, January 21 and runs 6 weeks. There are two spots left at this point. If you think one of them possibly has your name on it, you can find out more and register on my website.