Art Journals

The Inner Gollum

See what sometimes happens when you mix your media and do that daydreamy, let it happen kind of play? You run smack into your inner Gollum. But somehow he/she/it is never so scary. In fact it’s good for a big chuckle. Of course “they” are hanging around all the time hidden inside us. Surely you’ve met yours?

golum2

sand and rock dust in acrylic paste with inks, acrylics and pencil on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

I’ve been doing a lot of on-location sketching lately, but I’m also really looking forward to hunkering down for another full season of deep diving into mixed media painting in my workshops called (for about 12 years now) Muse Groups. We explore a different mixed media technique each week and it’s all in the interest of opening up the creative floodgates.

We artists all seem to need some activity which reminds us of the rich hidden veins of the never-before-seen that are just waiting for us to open the door and let them come onto the paper/canvas. I’ve always found the energy of a group to be a particularly fertile way to tap into that vein.

There are of course the most extensive networks of virtual art groups to join, and I will continue to post demos on my blog. But if you are close enough to me in Sebastopol, California I hope you’ll join us in person this fall. There’s nothing like a room full of artists and seemingly endless art supplies to get your creative tail wagging. (By the way, stop wondering IF you are an Artist and BE one.) Whatever your experience level you will be welcome.

Here’s the details:

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 2.32.04 PM

For more information and to register, contact me.

 

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Transparent Overlays

I’m still catching up on Muse Group demos from June. I had promised in the last class that we would do image transfers, but realized that it’s better to have another week to work on them, since the technique can sometimes create some false starts. So instead we used transparent overlays.

This is a great technique to use when you’re not comfortable with your drawing skills but want to incorporate a drawn image into your painting surface. Trace the image you want onto a transparent overlay, which could be regular tracing paper, light-weight “rice paper” or Dura-lar (the acetate alternative).  Move it around on the painted surface til you find the sweet spot where the paint shows through to advantage and glue it down with gel medium.

The bird here was my tracing. The paper became transparent when the medium dried so the underpainting shows through.

senorita

acrylic inks, transparent image overlay and other collaged paper on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

This señorita keeps her song going all June long. Dresses herself in colors each day, strutting along the limb, doing the limb-o all warm and fluid like an island girl. She keeps one eye on me and wonders why I wear a long face some days, when there’s always a heady fragrance and new tune to dance to.

Come eat your lunch with me, she says. Pura vida! What could be so bad anyway?

Well, don’t get me started, little bird. Don’t you read the newspapers?!!

Nevertheless, I appreciate her concerns, and so I’ve taken to eating my lunch outside under the flight pattern of birds between the bird feeder and fountain where they bathe. It goes a long way to lifting those cares.

Mylar Fun

My mixed media Muse Group has ended now for the summer. I always miss my weekly dose of art play in the group. I say “play” but of course making art can also be serious business when you’re an adult. To combat that seriousness I try to introduce a new material or technique each time, one that is impossible to “control” so it throws a wild card into the pot. (I think that’s a mixed metaphor in my mixed media explanation here!)

One week last month that wild card was mylar, that shiny silvery mirror-like polyester film that can be bought in rolls. It’s not really for painting, which is why it’s a great mixed media surface to play around with when pushing the envelope. (Another strange metaphor?)

mylarcity

Acrylic painted Mylar collaged with painted screen on acrylic painted w/c paper, 10X11″

Entropy in the city. Everyone trying to keep their balls in the air simultaneously. How is it possible that the buildings remain standing and don’t come apart at the seams and float up, and towers lean over from the sheer weight of people at rush hour?

Q: Where are the cars and busses and pedestrians here?

A: Down below in the well-worn grooves.

I’m always in a state of amazement in big cities. I think I did this piece not long after my trip to Brooklyn.

By the way, if you’re interested in getting into the Muse Group, now is a good time. I just opened registration for a six-week Monday Afternoon group in my Sebastopol, California studio starting September 10. For more information and to register visit my website.

Plea to the Wise One

Sometimes I think we all need a shaman to set us straight. Here’s the one who appeared to me this week.shamanladyMuse Group demo: acrylic inks on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

What are your dreams catching today? besides me, that is, in an awkward sprawl with one foot in your world and the other mired in this one. Would that potion in your bag help? Can I catch your secret in in my own dream catcher mitt?  Can we sway together to the rhythm of your chants, and go hunting together in moonlight?

 

Travel on the Brain

I guess I have travel on the brain these days. Meaning that I’m thinking a lot about my trip to Portugal next month for the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto. I’m determined to be prepared for everything, which is of course impossible, but I’ll try anyway.

We started a new month-long session of the Muse Group this week, painting with water shapes and inks. And here’s what came of it for me.

travelspecsinks and collage on w/c paper, 11X10″

So you want to sell me a postcard? Thanks anyway. Sunglasses? you say. No, thanks anyway. Got my sketchbooks and paints, got my shades and backpack and travel umbrella and comfortable shoes. .  . but hey, will you pose for me? or better yet, tell me about yourself. Tell me something I will never get from a guidebook. Look into my eyes and let me see your lifetime of struggles and triumphs. Let me sit for a few moments and be with you. Soon enough I’ll fly off, but I won’t ever forget. Promise. (It will all be found in my sketch.)

It is hard to explain how this works, how the complete sensory experience of some moments in time gets stored in a sketch made at that time. Frankly it doesn’t even matter if the sketch is simple or poorly executed. Any travel sketcher will tell you that. It makes you realize that most of the time we’re living in our heads, not particularly noticing what is happening around us in the moment. And that translates into not having memories of those moments!

And we think we have such important things going on in our minds. Ha! (Sorry for the rant)

Back to the 30X30Direct Watercolor challenge next. Are you doing your watercolor-a-day? Need inspiration? check out these folks, Marc and Suhita.

 

 

Uprising of the Shrooms

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how this painting started. Somewhere at the beginning was a smoke painting that later got covered up, when the irresistible  mushroom shapes I’d rescued from another painting took over.

shroomrising

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

the uprising of the ‘shrooms from darkened earth

the lizards and voles and birds

even Phil the cat, in their nature shrine

have grown accustomed to the exotic air

spiced with herbs and decay

while we worship at our manmade temples

and hope for salvation there.

citadel

“The Citadel”, inks on acrylic gel coated w/c paper 10 X 11″

geltexture

inks, acrylics coarse pumice gel on gel coated w/c paper 10 X 11″

All of these are demos in the Monday Muse Group were we experiment with a myriad of mixed media materials and techniques! These last two were from a lesson where we started out with watercolor paper coated with three dry layers of gel medium. The surface becomes more slick so that the paint/ink does unexpected things!

Think you might want to join us? There is one spot left in the session that starts June 4 and runs weekly for the month of June. For more info and to register visit my website!

 

Sfumato, Fumage, Smoke Painting

Whatever you call it, it happens when you touch a flame to paper, just enough to let a ghost of ashy, charcoal-y gray/black touch the paper. It’s hard to stop once you get started.

You can fix it with acrylic spray, workable fixative, and then paint over. You can take an eraser and remove it in places, as I did with the teardrop shapes here. You can burn the edges of the paper or even burn wholes in the middle. But watch out! The firebug may take over.

smoke1

candle smoke, collage, stainless steel acrylic, screen and paper collage on w/c paper

Smoke alarms! The embers dance a crazy dance of not caring.

It is so very thrilling, this dance of life and death.

But only when you are perched on the high wire

Or immediately after when you’ve survived and can see that your feet are still there,

Hands still clutching each other.

You’ve just seen the spirits.

That will haunt you forever.