Art Journals

The Narrator

Posing on her stage

In front of the curtain

Profile to audience, she is

Actress? Director?

Narrator, yes,

Of changing times

She waits

Hoping the seas will give up their secrets

Share a rosier picture of planetary change

If she could shapeshift

She might discover things

Why the solitary gull flies against the flock

For now though

She remains

Trapped on a stage

Helpless

Awestruck

Most of the mixed media paints and tools are packed away now, not to be opened until some time after “the move”. (The big truck comes next Tuesday and doesn’t arrive at our new home until the 21st.) But I’ve reserved lots of pieces of old paintings/demos/goofs to be mined for these new Muse works.

Years ago I painted moody ocean scenes in watercolor, then switched to fluid acrylics, throwing out the “rules” I’d learned. This one is a combination of both. I’ve come to rely on the words that come as I work on the “construction” of these works, which come together seemingly randomly. It’s all very personal of course, but at this stage of life, there’s nothing to hide. Wouldn’t you agree? Except for the social security number of course. Haha!

Packing Memories

I’ve had the strangest feeling about moving lately, that I’m not so much packing belongings as memories and layers of personal and shared history. And if I had a more efficient/useful/reliable way to accomplish the memory thing, there would not be so many things to find boxes for!

For instance, the wind chime, a gift made by my friend Ellyn that reminds me of her warm and wonderful heart every time I see and hear it. Or the beaded talisman made by Muriel to guard my studio door. Or the metal frog fountain-head from our pond in our Albany home, dating back to when the boys were into tadpole-ing and bringing critters home to take up residence there.

The boys (well men now) are a great deal less in need of these reminders of childhood than I.  They are too busy writing the big scripts of their lives, while I am enjoying the reruns.

So these things got packed today along with birdhouses and nests and rocks from my collection. The nests that were too fragile to pack have been distributed to key locations in the yard.

This one is my favorite, nestled in the bosom of the old apple tree behind my studio, inches from the tiny new apples. The history that I leave behind is somehow as essential as that which I take with me to re-plant in the fresh soil of the north. I can finally imagine how all these mini tasks are the structure of ceremony, that of continuance as well as rebirth.

Meanwhile the evening portrait painting continues, as I pursue a variety of poses on Sktchy and much needed practice with gouache.

I have more control and dexterity with watercolor, but love coming in with the opaque white gouache at the end to perk up the toned paper and make the eyes sparkle.

A Home of My Om

One of the great things about being an artist, i guess, is that after a certain number of years you begin to see that you have a lot to show for your time. It never seems like that when you’re in the trenches of your art making, listening to the inner critic tear you down, or when the sales or positive feedback thins to a trickle. But when you’re a visual artist and you are moving your residence/studio, and packing it all up. . .well if you stacked up my paintings next to me, I would be quite dwarfed. So I guess that means I can account for my time on earth? Ahem!

But then a sizable amount of that painting history has also been sent to its grave in the past month, with the only judge of its worth being myself, the artist and with no ceremonial send off.  Happily there’s another small portion of the otherwise discarded art which has been saved to become collage art. And some of that is what has gone into this tiny “book” art.

one pieces 10″X11″ paper, folded in half, cut to fold out and glued together

The Muses got together last week, and made small art books at Nancy’s home. Being a retired teacher she knew just how to teach us the folding involved in this book making. There was the “hot dog fold”, which you can perhaps picture, and the “hamburger fold”. When we started to get confused, those simple food images were surprisingly comforting.

I had brought with me an old monoprint, some of my son’s architectural drawings, and a variety of other papers with homemade stamps like the bird.

I knew we would be busy chatting while collaging, so starting with an in-progress painting seemed like a good idea.

I often like to put some kind of message in white space, which makes the art feel more intentional. I knew it had to do with moving to a new home, but it wasn’t til I got to the word “home” that I realized it was OM. Om being the primordial sound which connects us to this universe. So, no better home than OM. The bird is the Egyptian bird god Ra who brings the blessings we all need.

Another view of the back side. And I just noticed that Ra is flying from one window, presumably here in our Sebastopol home, north to another in Olympia, where we will be in three weeks time! Haha! And you probably think I planned it that way. This spontaneous art making invites the trickster in for laughs.

This folded book design can result in a folded up book with a front and back, but I was using heavy weight paper, so that didn’t quite work. But what a lovely little table top piece it makes, and I just realized it could also be a desktop pencil/pen holder!

Migration

Sometimes lately it feels like the whole world is migrating. No wonder. My small family are all moving this summer. Bob and I to Olympia, Washington next month. Andrew possibly to Seattle. Ben to Ashville, N.C. Lots of people are also staying put, of course. But there are so many human migrations going on just now. And look at the oceans and the skies!

But before a migration, there’s a certain amount of shaking up that seems necessary to dislodge one. Me, I’ve been in that drink blender for a while now. You know, throw in a bit of this, a bit of that, and turn on the blender. Now i’m sloshing around in the glass and about to spill out. 

acrylic transfer, collage, acrylics on w/c paper

She got all dressed up ready to go. The wind and waves were fierce, and her boat so tiny. Her fish friends were not sure she would take them along. They offered to come along for protection and she said sure, jump in, but they declined. So she jumped into the water with them.

To the Birds and Butterflies

It must be a springtime thing, but this year it feels different. There are just so many creatures making themselves known, flying close or settling themselves nearby or even on me with skin contact. Caterpillars, yes, but butterflies and hummingbirds, and bees, and lizards, and dragonflies. A crane fly flew inside my shirt yesterday and could not be coaxed out. And two nights ago I took a walk up the road at dusk and saw a fox wending his way slowly down the road ahead of me, stopping periodically, and was he looking back? And finally just as I got to my property I saw that he’d gone up the neighbor’s driveway across the street and was sitting there looking my way.  

And did I mention the wild turkeys and quail that have startled me by landing practically at my feet, suddenly out of nowhere? Were they always so present in the springtime, or is it just that I have been shining the tractor beam of my awareness on my surroundings here at my home before I leave it, storing up endless mental pictures to take with me?

graphite textures, handmade (by me!) papers and collage on w/c paper

To the birds and the butterflies, the ants and the tree frogs who have tolerated me in their jungle antechambers for all these one and twenty years, I offer up my books of Muse art and word. May you share the bounty of your natural gifts with others as you have with me. And may all bear witness to your unique gifts and strive in every way to protect them. Amen!

Limbo-land

It’s limbo-land for us a while longer, six more weeks to be exact until the moving truck comes. How does one live in the NOW when there is so much planning to do? How will our furniture fit in the new house? What should we leave behind? What about insurance and medical care and internet provider and so much more that we take for granted when we stay put?

I also do a lot of wondering about things like what birds and insects and other creatures will inhabit my surroundings so that I can feed them or possibly discourage them or just merely come into relationship with them. I’m told there’s lots of rabbits. I’m down for that! but what birds and where will they be building nests? and what kind of butterflies?

Questions like these always lead to the art, as in this one. . .

powdered graphite, powdered pigment, collage on w/c paper

Today I asked

pleaded really

for my winged friends to come with me to the new house

to perch on branches, build their nests in bushes, lay their eggs

to fill the air with buzzing chirping fluttering soaring singing squawking cooing pecking humming munching flapping splashing

I asked them to please find their way to my windows

to reassure me that I still inhabit a nature wonderland.

So that I will look up from my table

to meet the eyes of some new bird

who finds me as exotic and revelatory

as I find her/him/them.

This is how I’ll know

I have found my way home again.

 

Toe tapping with promise

I just watched the new movie Godzilla vs Kong with “the boys”. That might help understand how this art piece came about. Some of that creature action worked its way into my art. The image reads in the dream language of paint and paper to reveal aspects of my current state of affairs!

Fluid acrylics, gesso, collage on w/c paper

 

Toe tapping through the city

After Godzilla and Kong 

Got done toppling

 

Here’s what’s left:

an egg rolling

and it’s got passengers

going somewhere

 

They don’t know where . . . yet

But it’s got promise

and a space needle

and bright gleaming places

And those toes keep tapping . . .

 

No earthquakes or tornadoes (or fires or any of the other dries) here where I am in sunny No. California. Not even a storm or even a drop of rain for a while. All’s quiet and familiar, but it’s getting to be time to move on to house hunting in the south of Seattle area. And along with this, there’s a silent and powerful kind of psychic dismantling and reimagining going on. Great for dream action!

A Bifurcated Goddess of Spring

Spring is the time of year when I’m most content with just sitting and staring dumbly at nature’s exuberances. My Piscean March birthday makes me particularly vulnerable to wanting to weep at the beauty of it all.

But this year is particularly poignant because we are about to leave this gorgeous home of ours for the north country. The house sale is pending, and I’m off next week to find our next home in the south Puget Sound area of Washington.

For weeks now I’ve been living in two worlds in my imagination. Were I a more experienced shaman, perhaps I would move more gracefully between the imaginal realms without the upheaval of loss and dislocation alternating with expectation and exhilaration. But maybe not. 

rorschach with ink and gesso, collage and acrylics on w/c paper

Two sides of the same coin

Doppelgangers

Me in two places

North and South

East and West

Sun and Rain

or

A split personality

A here today there tomorrow

A bifurcated goddess of Spring

Dwelling in two regions at once

Traveling the sensory tapestry

Of the be here/there now

A shaman riding the dragon’s tail

Landing softly in two places to

Be ready

        for both

Gaze

      Touch

             Listen

                   Sniff and

Taste!

Illustrated Adventure?

People keep asking if I’m excited about moving. And if I shrug they might add, but you’re in for an adventure. But honestly, adventure of this sort often looks more enticing from the outside. And we all have some element of restlessness, especially after a year of pandemic shut downs. So I get it. Sure, I guess I’m excited

For most of us adventure is sweetest when you’ve planned it out first, like an exotic vacation, and maybe a good friend told you about how fabulous it was, and how safe, and you’ve poured over pictures to prepare yourself.

Anticipation of adventure applies only theoretically to a move. Nevertheless I am trying, and this piece today bears witness to that. I want something to look back on once the boxes are packed and unpacked on the other side in the mythical new home. Then there will be stories to tell and hopefully the audience to hear.

For now I steal moments away from the near constant cleaning and clearing to paint and paste the adventure, which I’ve not yet fully embraced!

inks and gesso rorschach with deconstructed book, etc. collage

Suspended in my own frenzy

an echo of springtime

riot of

bird-buzz

bud-burst

bee-bloom

as Easter bunny makes her way through

oxalis and I at the ready

to hop with her 

Attempt at a Conversation with Birds

This blog was titled Conversations With the Muse many years ago, and mainly that’s been happening. I make art, and then I think and write about it. Otherwise it feels so unfinished. With the mixed media expressive art there is often a verbal interaction attempted with the content of the piece, which usually contains a great many unanswered questions. . .like this one.

For my underpainting I used an unfinished experiment with dripping inks and blowing them across the page with a straw. Then I found pieces of deconstructed paintings I’ve been keeping for the collage. The result was something that totally short circuited all the rules of color, design, technique etc that i have been learning and relying on in my art for many years. Thank goodness. My favorite thing is to create something bizarre, unexpected, and fascinating to contemplate. Hopefully it will get me wondering outside the box of my usual thinking.

acrylic inks and fluid paints on w/c paper

You crows, all black and squawky on one side and cooing doves on the other.

You’ve laddered up from the lower realms and found a roost for your pulpit.

Now speak!         

(silence)

How can you be so silent now, as I sit expectant with pen in hand to take dictation?

What do you see and hear and feel in your vast communications network?

Am I too dense to plug into it and understand?

How long would I have to sit and watch and listen to receive even a micron of the information which sails unseen, unheard by us humans, between you  and your avian family each moment of the day.

Surely this painting entitles me to just a bit of all that? . . .a feather dropped that I might keep for a dream catcher? A song that I could learn and sing to myself?

Perhaps when the cawing meets the cooing I may at last get a feel, by audio transmission, for the freedom of flight?

a look at the process of construction from beginnings to placing collage pieces and drawing in the focal bird

Have you had any conversations with your art lately?