Author: Susan Cornelis

Westside Farm

We’re all concerned about a February month without a drop of rain in our rainy season. But that hasn’t stopped us from glorying in the gorgeous “spring” weather we’ve been having. It’s such a treat to be able to sit out in the direct sun to sketch without becoming overheated or burning.

I haven’t driven out Westside Road in ages, even though it’s so close to my home. Many of the wineries were closed, or appointment only, on Saturday. I guess because it’s off season? Westside Farm is not a winery, but an magnificently picturesque collection of aging barns backed by vineyards. 

westsidefarm

This shack/shed hung off the back of one of the mammoth old barns whose roofs had become sieves. It tilted in wonderful ways that gave it personality. I sat on my three legged stool while a big orange barn cat wrapped himself around my legs and the chickens in a nearby coop kept up a symphony of whines and clucks. It was heaven for a while, far away from other folks and the din of my home responsibilities!

westsidefarm2

A perfect setting for a sketch with a backdrop of the Mayacama mountains, a curving path, fence, a stately tree, and a bit of red barn.

A Regatta in Fabric Collage

The students in Tuesday afternoon’s Muse Group arrive early and unpack their paints and brushes and start enjoying each other’s company. We are mostly women of a certain age. An age of experience, of wisdom one might say. And sometimes the conversation veers in the direction of age itself, which we are mightily involved in understanding. After all, aren’t we all, at any age trying to figure out what exactly it means to be 20 or 30 or 50 or 70?

At my age  the discussion revolves around the question of “how much longer”? Small wonder then that issues around this very question arose as I worked on finishing my demo for the fabric collage lesson.

regatta

fabric and paper collage, stamping on acrylic monoprint, 10 X 11″

A regatta of tombstones. Jump on and they’ll carry you downstream. On your merry way you will pass the others, the ones who have already passed. But don’t worry. They don’t mean to frighten, though they are a gentle reminder to wake up, enjoy the river’s currents, the flowers along the banks, the flags waving in the breeze. This regatta is not really a race, but don’t dally in the reeds. There’s not much time left for this journey.

Another note I must add. The delightful KQED Masterpiece Sanditon episode I watched on Sunday involved a regatta. That’s all it took for black and white striped ribbon cut outs to become flags and the blank white spaces to become a blue river!

Love is the Cure!

My gift to you on Valentine’s Day is Rumi and a painting inspired by his ecstatic poetry. First, the poem. . .

Love is the cure,

for your pain will keep giving birth to more pain

until your eyes constantly exhale love as effortlessly

as your body yields its scent.

loveisthecure

acrylic and collage and gel pens on acrylic textured w/c paper, 10 X 11″

In Muse Group this week we painted larger, on 1/2 sheets of watercolor paper (15X22″), in acrylic and then used cropping borders to find the painting “gems” within the borders. Some of us left the painting whole and others (like me) cut it up.

Here’s the painting before carving.

hearts1

Now I also have an assortment of interesting “remnants” to put together in another painting, which I may share. . . if and when it comes together.

Now enjoy your chocolate and whatever lovemaking of the emotional, carnal, and/or spiritual kind you have in mind for this lovely non-holiday.

Jacuzzi Vineyards and the Olive Odyssey

Last Saturday it had been too long since I was out sketching on location! So I seized the opportunity with the No. Bay Urban Sketchers meet up at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards . A glorious sunny day and the special event was an Olive Odyssey! meaning tasting, tasting, tasting! (even olive iced tea!) and a mammoth crowd of bay area partygoers.

Jacuzzi1

Unfortunately due to an allergy attack I lasted only a while, doing my best to get something down on paper before heading home. But what a delight to sketch some building geometry!

Jacuzzi2

And then the noisy tasting crowd! Yes, this man on the left had wine glasses on his shirt to match the wine glass in his hand. That’s what I call a die-hard wine connoisseur! The ladies on the right were probably just as avid, but not quite dressed to impress.

What a difference a word makes

Adding words to your paintings creates new layers of interest. That’s what we explored in Muse Group last week. Using word at the beginning, middle, and/or end. Layering it on, covering it over or uncovering like a palimpsest with traces of meaning remaining mysteriously, leaving the minds of the viewers to make their own sense and meaning.

flowing2I have been wanting to play with different tools to add words. Here I started with the “5 rhythm” piece from the first class, which was painted to flowing music, and used a white gel pen to draw in the word which itself seemed to flow through the color patterns.

chaos2 This piece was painted to the musical rhythm of Chaos, so I chose to use my ink pads and alphabet stamps to create a chaos of  letters, echoing the meaning of the words employing another level of movement.

lyrically2

I had treated myself to a new set of cling foam stamps by Jim Holtz idea-ology and tried them out here with a new ink pad color “potted soil”. The ghost of the letter stamp added a dimensional feel that was a great discovery.

To see the “before” paintings go to Paint the Rhythms and for more about palimpsests go to here and here

The Last of #30faces30days Challenge

By the final days of the #30faces30days challenge on the Sktchy app I was more interested in trying out some techniques I’d already learned than following the prompt each day. The pictures provided were so fascinating – they’re called “Muses” on the Sktchy app- that I couldn’t wait to draw the new one each day. Here’s the last two of the month.

30faces30days29

Watercolor and pencil on gray toned paper

This Muse’s hair was not white/gray and his shirt was patterned. I’m learning to leave out some parts to make the whole more interesting, and loving what happens on the gray toned paper.

30faces30days30

(sorry for uneven lighting here and rippled paper from wet applications!)

Thanks to Margriet Aasman, a Canadian illustrator and teacher on Sktchy for so many useful ideas about color and final application of pastel pencil. I was trying out a bit of everything on this portrait and loving the deep purples and dark reds for this Muse’s dark skin.

Carmen

The portrait project at The Living Room is keeping me joyfully busy these days, collecting the stories of these women who have become my friends. They have all been homeless and many of them still are. They have that is common, along with other things I couldn’t have known about without spending hours listening to them. They possess a kind of hard won wisdom and a desire to minister to others who are down on their luck.

. . .Like Carmen, who leaned in to tell me her secret, “Sleeping on the streets you learn to be grateful for what you do have, and it makes you strong.”

Carmen

Carmensita is almost always to be found by her side.  She is the white “Yoda” in the stroller below. Likely she is dog sitting the large hound by her side.

dogduo