Art Journals

Mithenness

Have you discovered The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig yet? It’s a marvelously readable “dictionary” for word-lovers, described as “a compendium of new words for emotions, its mission to shine a light on the fundamental strangeness of being a human being – all the aches, demons, vibes, joys, and urges that are humming in the background of everyday life”. I thought I might make use of it in my Conversations with the Muse, for obvious reasons.

I never like to get all heavy at the beginning of art making, preferring the looser, playful, wait-and-see-what-happens approach. So first I did my painting, cutting up pieces of an old painting and and collaging them on. Then found the word to match.

Mithenness: noun, from Middle English mithen, to be hidden away

The unsettling awareness that the rest of the world happily carries on in your absence, that although things only ever seem to change when you check back in for an update, they’re unwilling to wait for you, and undergo massive shifts while your back is turned – your mother getting older, your old friends becoming different people, your hometown losing some of the hallmarks that made it feel like home. . .

To these examples I would add so many garden examples. Like when you go away on a trip of even three days during the growing season and return to riotous growth that seemed to wait on purpose until you went away. Like when your lettuces bolt before you get a chance to pick them and the bugs sneak into the folds in the cabbage in the middle of the night and make holes. These things, and many more about the people who you let out of your sight for a while, these things are unsettling even though you know it’s silly to feel that way.

So, Mithenness is the word of the day! and somehow just knowing there’s a word for it is better than a relief. It’s a bit of a thrill!

And by the way, don’t try to find it in Websters. You’ll have to get the book.

Wishes for the Genie

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

Rise up

a wave of yearning

for an earth that is whole

one family 

enough for all

no longer the desire to harm

this is my prayer

Rise UP

iridescent inks on gesso textured w/c paper

The genie in the bottle asks what are your wishes three?

Shall it be gold?

Life everlasting?

A life without danger or loss?

O Genie, first answer me this 

Is there enough wealth in this world for us all

To live in plenty and in peace?

Then that shall be my only wish.

 

Ah! If only. . . 

Night Creatures

India ink, gesso, acrylic glaze and acrylic skin, white gel pen, collage

When you toss and turn and horrible 

Thoughts hold a parade in your mind

And sleep runs for the exit

Ask for advise from the night creatures

Say – Why do you like the night hours?

The answer will no doubt involve food.

So stop your fretting.

You like food too, right?

Get up and have a bowl of

Lift your spoon in a toast to

Those who know

The secret to happy thoughts

at night

Hoot! Hoot!

Pouring rivers of acrylic

It’s so easy to lose the spark of creation when you’re an artist who’s always trying to improve skills at your craft. For many years now I’ve engaged in this practice I call Conversations with the Muse. Periodically I peruse my archived books of lesson demos and experiments in radical eccentricity, and chose a mixed media entry point to launch myself into the realm of the bizarre which always lies beneath the surface of an otherwise socially appropriate personality. It just feels so freeing!

So this time I got a big bottle of Liquitex Pouring medium to mix with my fluid acrylics- four colors in little bottles – knowing that there is no point in trying to control the paint because it just keeps moving, and you’re along for the ride. And the characters emerged as they always do.

fluid acrylics mixed with Liquitex Pouring Medium on gesso coated hot press w/c paper

My hair’s been running wild lately

Or maybe it’s me. . .running . . .wild

Taking on the animal nature

The hair, a pelt or fur or mane

Think lions or horses or little pink ponies

Unicorns on little girls’ beds

Or think huddled under a blanket fort hideout

Made of pillows and the living room sofa

And two small children peeping out of the dark wide eyed

While their feet give them away

poured acrylics and collage with poured acrylic skins! and ink lines

Not much room for me here

No space to stretch out

Something might crack. 

Better to sit still

Not attract attention

But this heavy coat

I’m dying for a good scratch

 

If you want to try pouring acrylics, there are so many youtube videos to instruct, and here are some previous posts of mine that might help:

2019 https://susancornelis.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/a-lesson-in-pouring-acrylics/

2015 https://susancornelis.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/black/

2014 https://susancornelis.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/made-from-the-same-fabric/

Have fun watching the rivers flow! (I think my mind is still back on the white water in N.C.!)

Zephyr

acrylic monotype plus. . . collage, etc. on w/c paper 10 X 11′

Zephyr

Soft gentle breeze blows  

Takes me along

Disorganizes

Blows particles of thoughts 

Dandelion puffs 

In bird territory

 

Zephyr with no mind 

No thought to enact 

But air-borne sky-borne cloud-borne

In a great rush to gather

Assemble and sweep up

Stand up now and see 

Where that spring zephyr has borne you

Don’t be afraid 

Your gentle breeze will explain later

The Fortune

watercolor, India ink, black gesso, collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Garden Lady beckons with sunshine and dark fragrant soil

Lures the mind with visions of baskets overflowing

Prods with reminders that you must PLAN and PLOW and PLANT!

But caution advised!

Consult your fortune cooky first to gain perspective.

     “Keep a level head.”

     “Watch what you say (and think)”

     “Wish upon a star tonight.”

(but watch what you wish tor)

     And:

“You were right the first time!”

                  Caution advised. An excess of over planning can lead to under performing.

Have you been planning your spring vegetable garden? We have. Maybe you’ve got it all figured out. But our first spring here in the northwest we are scrambling to learn what to expect, pouring over books and taking online courses and staring at our garden plot wondering. . .how ambitious should we get? 

Time to consult astrology, the iChing, Tarot cards, Celtic Runes, almanacs, and maybe even fortune cookies? Or just dive in, move the soil around, get the irrigation right, plant and see what grows!

Studio Celebration

The best way to attract creative energy to a new art studio is to invite The Muses to come and play! Luckily my sketch buddies were game to join me and even engage in a Muse-full afternoon of meditation, mixed media art play, writing, and sharing the results! The studio is just big enough for four of us to comfortably work together. No lessons needed for this group of artists who dove in with no reluctance that I could see!

We started with fluid acrylics and inks on a wet surface, squirted, brushed, scraped and rollered on with some gesso for more texture.

Daler Rowney acrylic inks, gesso, w/c pencil on 10 X 11″ w/c

Spring has its goblins hidden among the blossoms

Their eyes are on YOU

They float banshee-like on gentle breezes

Fertilizing soil and seeds

Buds with time release nutrients

Blooms with no choice but to burst

Scatter to the ground too soon

Pink and white petal tears stoking passions

Aches of restless hearts

         Goblins know all about fleeting beauty and its price.

And here’s a look at the others’ art!

Muse Jane

Muse Jan

Muse Ineke

Four Muses

Spring has now got a toehold in my studio, simultaneous with the draw of the spring garden through the windows. A sweet battle to engage with!

Thank you Muses!

Pieces of Me

One of the things I love about collage is the cutting up of papers. You get a lot of interesting pieces. And then you sit down and try to figure out how they can all fit together in a pleasing, or at least uniquely interesting way. Unlike real life, that is, where the pieces don’t always fit together or get lost in the process. With collage you can say “OK, I’m finished with this now.” and then wonder what it means. There’s never just one answer, so you pick one!

inks, acrylics, foil and paper collage

When I look at this earth

I see pieces of me

When I look at myself

I see pieces of earth

I’ve been sticking my hands in the dirt every time I go outside lately, pulling weeds mostly, but also finding buds and bugs to examine closely. I believe the creatures in my garden, down to the microscopic ones are my relations, otherwise why would I seek the feel of soil on my hands, and feel my heart slow down and breath deepen?

The nature sanctuary outside my dining room window has been evolving. I got dizzy watching the squirrel swing on the suet feeder up side down while eating, and I set up a proper picnic table for squirrels and bunnies, with corn and sunflower seeds. Now I can have lunch with them sometimes. Their manners are not always so fine, with the exception of this cottontail.

How to Hang (your unframed small art)

There were enough blog readers wondering how I hung my gallery wall of Muse art, that I thought I’d devote a brief post to what is actually a do-it-yourselfers dream. Even I could have constructed it, though I lean heavily on Bob for such things and he always comes through with good solutions.

For years I have been doing these expressive art pieces and they tend to pile up! After I’ve done about 20 of them, they go into loose leaf books, like the ones you see stored in boxes on the right. But it really helps my creative courage to give them a bit of air for a while first. (By the way, the writing I do about each piece is on the back). I think it’s too easy to forget we are creators if we can’t see the fruits of our art time. So here’s how to make your own:

First thing is to find the dowel you can use. We purchased these metal ones (3) at a hardware store. They are 6′ long and about 1/4″ diameter.  The dowel must fit through the eye screw which goes into the wall. We used three eye screws for each of the 6′ dowels. The clips fit over the dowel. That’s it.

And the clips we used: (Sorry about the disturbing safety reminder here!) but if you’re like me you want specifics, so you know what you’re looking for on line or locally sourced. 

I’ve never had a problem with putting holes in my walls to hang art. Best not to be squeamish about that. Trust that the art will always upstage the wall surface! And let me know how it goes if you try this.

Looking for a Soft Landing?

I’m getting back to the mixed media expressive play I’ve practiced for the past 15-16 years, my Muse work. Sometimes if feels a bit like I’m Dumbledore, touching a wand to my head and drawing out images I didn’t know were there, and dropping them into the mist of the paper surface where I can begin to have an inkling of how I feel about “things” in my life.

More often what comes out is not “personal” so much as what I feel going on in the world at the time. Small wonder that cutting and pasting and painting of images accesses some preverbal level, and most recently brought me the war in Ukraine.  But the personal image pops in as well. Here it’s the found blueprint of our beloved dining table with the view in Sebastopol! Putting them together as in a dream is an act of conjure. 

layers of inks, fluid acrylics, collage papers on w/c paper 10 X 11″

Looking for a soft landing?

On the way down through danger lands

Flying fragments of previously ordered lives

Upended

Better to stay airborne (if possible)

Search for that dining table with the view

Bundle up that and other memories

To share when the storm dies down

If . . .

Spread arms like wings like blankets over the flames

the floods, the wars, the sorrows.

Bring the comfort of memories

Until the pieces knit together again.

Your world is not made to stay intact forever

So fly high, fly free with eyes open inward where

there is always a place of peace

And no binoculars needed.