Art Journals

Start with words and a color combo

We started with words this week in Muse Group. I thought that this group of sage women with strong feelings and opinions might find their/our way into a painting by casting the net first for big words. Like those you find printed up in magazines. We used copies of San Francisco magazine, since not only are they well designed, but also filled with stories of exceptional, independent-thinking game changers.

Next we picked a dynamic palette and tried it out on a piece of scrap paper to gain the full scope of surprising mixes we would get.

bomb

Demo: color scheme; yellow green with accents of red and blue violet. Acrylic on w/c paper

Who is the hero? Is it the one who says “Bomb now?” or she who quietly goes about changing the culture. She grows green things and her own heros tend to be hero-ines. She looks to the earth for redemption of the spirit, and herself becomes a redeemer softly, and with a smile and an offer of help here and there. She uses her power to heal, to change the culture now, bit by bit.

There’s no rules to follow here. That’s the Muse Group ethos. Take a piece of it and go off in your own direction. Change the culture through your art, bit by bit.

And if you live anywhere near here, Sebastopol, California, come paint with us! A new six week session starts October 29. For more information and to register visit my website.

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New Mixed Media Group starts Oct 29!

A new 6-week session of Muse Group fun starts at the end of the month and you’re invited to join!  We’ll be doing more lessons like this one, applying acrylic inks and gesso in abstract designs, adding textures and collage, and words. For more information and to register visit my website.

Two weeks ago we started out with a familiar Zen concept, that of enso, a Japanese word meaning circle and symbolizing the absolute, enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, the void. . .the expression of the moment when the mind is free to let the body/spirit create! enso1

If I were to step into this ENSO, there might be repercussions. Well, I hope so. There’s got to be a something in the white nothing. I can stand here forever on the outside, weaving my wreath of inks and collage, but the inside is where the ad-venture starts. . .the journey to the center of a swirling mass of colors and shapes, the bottom of the well. . .the ____ ?

The circle shape does raise the question of “what’s inside?” It points to what often cannot be seen or even if seen, words may fail to describe it adequately.  Of course that’s the business of the image, to suggest without spelling it out. In Muse Group we write for five minutes after the image making, not to describe or define the image, but perhaps to go deeper into the mystery of it.

In another enso piece, exploring the radiating form of the circle shape, the appearance of crickets led to more disturbing thoughts.  . .

enso2

What attracts them to the maelstrom which may be their oblivion? Is it the march of their species rising out of a wrong turn by some of its members, with the inexorable pull of primitive tribalism?  (Are we only talking crickets here?)

Who do we follow in life’s march, the one who we recognize as most familiar, or the wise one(s) who takes off down a new road that we cannot yet see the end of. Either way oblivion is terrifying, but also inevitable.

 

Light-footed

A new Muse Group session started up last week. I’ve taken the summer off from teaching and it’s great to be back doing this intuitive painting/collaging work. I like to always start the class back up with acrylic inks because they can be squirted onto the page with droppers! Meaning that we can throw caution to the wind, at least initially, and then develop a piece with the part of the brain that embraces serendipity.

lightfootedclass demo: acrylic inks and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

She is light-footed, buzzing with the bees and nesting with the birds, throwing herself out in a string of tags – one day a mother, another a star on a stage, and yet another a winged creature.

Her blessings are cast everywhere, yet she remains at the center of it all, animated and relaxed, energetic and focused. Sometimes she wraps the strings around her for protection, like shields, pulling the birds and the bees with her into a cocoon.

It can be daunting to tackle a painting like this which begins with “ink play”, so I got out my rubber stamp collection, which is considerable at this point. Some of them were purchased and many were carved into soft linoleum blocks.

The class exercise was to wet portions of the watercolor paper with water, squirt on some inks (3 colors max!) and let them mix a bit, and then add some gesso “worms” and run the roller or other tool through them to mix. I like to put some gesso of the lighter weight variety into an applicator (like a mustard container) and squeeze it onto the paper.

Then, while the paint was wet, press the rubber stamp into it and then stamp that on the paper as well. Voila! You’re already halfway to a finished painting that is harmonious and has interest!

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.

 

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?