Author: Susan Cornelis

Master Quilters

With the colder weather I’ve been enjoying more studio time and practicing my quick capture people drawing skills. When I watched a video about The Master Quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama I couldn’t wait to try sketching the faces of these women, who embody for me a serene wisdom and powerful heritage that I think most of us in this frenetic modern life have missed.

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I hope you can slow down enough to watch the 14 minute video, and breathe deep and then you’ll know what I mean. But I lead a distractible life, and so I got this far and was called away. When I got back I was glad I had stopped! The imagination is always grateful to be left to fill in the rest.

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I really wished I could set a spell on the porch with these ladies, happy to swat flies and keep stitchin.

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If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll watch the video and get to see them talking and making their lovely quilts, a tradition passed down from mother to daughter.

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While we humans sleep. . .

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

The cats are out tonight, bearing witness to the way the moonlight silvers the flowers. They have no need to paint or write poetry or make music. The frogs, crickets, owls and coyotes are music enough. The silence is enough.

And so they sit in unison until the moon drops aways and the morning star gives hints of coming dawn.

“Soon She’ll come out to get the paper and feed us.”

This is sort of a true story. We have two cats, both of whom adopted us for our plentiful outdoor servings of food and water fountain. Phil, the yellow cat came first and he most certainly also longed for the neck scratches and belly rubs. Sylvester came much later, attracted by Phil, but never let us touch him. They can often be seen side by side in stillness as I rush about my day. They seem to have mastered contentment, except when I open the door to get the morning paper and am greeted with the urgency of their empty bellies!

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This was the beginning of the painting – a thoroughly enjoyable finger painting (grown-up style). I could have left it like this, but maybe I wanted more content, or maybe I wanted to get out some collage papers. While playing with this one I thought of all the ways to ease and blend the wet paint/ink onto the paper with fingers and palm and scratchers, playing with serendipity and design. A great lesson to open the next Artful Muse series!

January 21 the Artful Muse workshop is starting up with another 6-class Monday afternoon series in my studio in Sebastopol, California. Registration is open now and I hope you can join us! Beginners and experienced painters are welcome. For more information and registration visit my website.

Symphony Rehearsal

The Santa Rosa Symphony’s Discovery Concert Series is a great and affordable way to hear a concert at the Green Center. As a side bonus, the open seating makes it possible to move around and get different vantage points for some sketching!

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Pen drawing on site and watercolor added later.

The soprano, Jennifer Thuman waits here for her part in Vivaldi’s Gloria. She rises then, and singing like an angel with delicate and subtle tones, guides Vivaldi’s music into heavenly realms!

Sitting in the second row one looks up at the stage and can see the violinists, the conductor and the soloists. The rest of the orchestra is heard but not seen from down below.

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How to sketch a conductor swinging a baton? Imagine many hands at once?

Listening to Christopher Fritzche sing next, once again in a voice of more heavenly realms, high and ephemeral, I had to look in the program for what a voice in that range is called. . .countertenor!

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Sketching in the second row one notices certain details. . .like the casual attire of the musicians in this practice session. The black gowns are saved for the actual concert later in the evening.

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After the intermission we moved up to the balcony for another view.  Bassoons, clarinets, French horns and cellos. A challenging angle for a nice drawing challenge.

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And then the viola soloist with the impossible name and riveting stage presense.

Muslim Fashion

Have you seen the Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco? If you haven’t, then you might only be picturing scarf-clad middle eastern women, rather than the complex and diverse assortment of contemporary Muslim dress styles around the world. The women’s apparel in the show is designed by seasoned and emerging fashion designers from Malaysia to Iran, Indonesia to Pakistan. We’re also talking Muslim Rapper and motorcycle fashion and the bikini a la “Burkini”!

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And modest sportswear, in this case ultra-chic with that red hijab.

Realizing my utter illiteracy in Muslim clothing vocabulary I looked up the word hijab when I got home found innumerable meanings from “veil” to “curtain” to “modesty” and dozens of translations and hundreds of different applications to dress worldwide.

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I do wish that the museum had invested in some mannequins whose hands had more than two positions and more than the non-descript high-fashion model faces. Nothing exotic or interesting about those. But watch the online videos to see real women moving in these creations.

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After an hour and a half of standing and sketching I finally plunked myself clumsily on the floor to give the feet a rest. There were Art Institute students camped out in this fashion. Not my choice, but better than nothing! I added paint to the drawings at home.

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I’m not sure why Red Rose, the most gaudy-glittery evening dress was so distinctly unadorned (immodest) on top, but the black box top on the other model makes up for it.

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Now the Saudi model on the right would certainly have at least had a rich head of black hair, don’t you think? And some less “comfortable” looking shoes? But hey, no one asked me, and I still recommend the show.

I’m wondering how to work some head scarves into my wardrobe without looking like a copy cat. It would certainly solve the problem of hair that frizzes when it rains!

New Mixed Media Group Starts Jan 21!

I’ll be starting up a new 6-week mixed media Muse group in my studio in Sebastopol, CA on January 21. Hope you can join us! It’s a six-week class exploring painting and collage methods like the ones shown in my last post, but it’s honestly so much more. Excellent supportive company of the artist kind for one. Meditation and writing and even some poetry thrown in. Whatever it takes to tickle the creative nerve. For more information and to register visit my website. Limited to 7 participants. Students of all levels are welcome.

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class demo: embossed acrylic medium textures, antique postcards, acrylic glazes and ink on w/c paper 10 X 11″,

The post now is rarely of personal nature. Your name on the envelop is computer generated. Cut it up and rearrange it any way you want. Dye it different colors and glue it back together. You can only improve on the boredom of the daily mail.

Or try to imagine yourself in times past, even before your parents were born, when script was elegant and letters could verge on poetry. Go back to the time when the pen danced in loops and swirls and Miss Eda got a hand written card from Sis. 1915

Solo-Musing

Well, I’ve been sketching a lot lately, and now it’s winter and the rain is keeping me indoors, (along with the holiday bustle which I’m trying to avoid). So what do I do when there’s no one to Muse with?

I believe that abundance is tinder for the creative fire. So today I got out a pile of paintings/experiments I’ve done over the past year in my mixed media Muse group to take a look and get inspired again. It’s a rather big pile.  And here’s a tiny bit.

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There’s everything from sgraffito to tar gel texture to powdered graphite texture and faux (foil) metallics. . .

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And yesterday I visited the new location for Art and Soul of Sebastopol, our art supply store that has moved to a fabulous new location in town with lots of space. Among other treats I picked up a jar of pearlescent magenta Lumiere paint, just because it called out to me. (I certainly don’t need any more paint!)

MuseMix2Sometimes if you’re lucky in your rummaging, you run across something accidental that’s so perfect together.

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Like this paper scrap with the smoke “people”. . .

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And then I look at the works I’ve done in the last Muse Groups, which get clipped in succession on my wall, and remind myself that they all came together from this process of stepping fearlessly into an abundance of visually exciting materials and emotionally charged ideas from life.

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There are some that I want to keep just so, like this combination powdered graphite and colored pigment with gingko stencil piece. It seems like enough just to enjoy the texture as is.

I’ll go into the pile now and see what comes next. . .and share it here. I hope you’ll do the same if you have your own pile?

Thanksgiving at Home

Rain outside -thank God- and fresh air after two weeks of toxin laden air from the Butte Co fire.  And cozy inside the kitchen with lots of cooking and so much catching up to do. Ben has been home this week, which means lots of interest in eating and talking and lounging in the window seat in our kitchen/dining area. He is always amenable to Mom’s sketching. The usual pose has a computer on the lap and foot in the air.

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In this one I tried painting direct with watercolor, then added the line into wet paint – not very accurate but fun. Only problem was that he sat that way (mostly) for so long that I got obsessed with getting his face right and ended up making it look like someone else.

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But then he changed position and I gave it another try:  drawing first, then painting, and because of the earlier warm up (and having sketched him a hundred times before at every age) it actually looks like him, though perhaps a bit wider.

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Knowing that I can never sketch the cooked turkey before it gets carved, I went for the uncooked bird this time, though I was being urged to be quick since it was supposed to be in the fridge.

Turkey anatomy  is something I have never actually studied as a subject to draw. But I found myself quite transfixed and challenged by it. The result looked a bit dopey to me, so I added the words for humor’s sake, and then was satisfied.

The cooking of this turkey was also a challenge, which led to various expletives and a promise to never again. . .so I’m glad I captured this much, because we may be considering other fowl or even vegetarian Thanksgiving entres next year!

Hope you had a heart and stomach warming Thanksgiving day!