Art Journals

While we humans sleep. . .

bearingwitness

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!

fingerpainting

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.

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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”. . .

Musewall

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?

Oh No, Not Again!

I was on the phone this afternoon with my son, paying only partial attention to the skies as they transitioned from bright sunshine to a peachy gunmetal gray, which worked its way up from the horizon until the entire sky was filled. Bob placed a piece of paper in my lap that said it was smoky outside. And the words came to mind, “oh no, not again!”

It took a bit of online searching and a leap of the imagination to believe that the smoke was blowing all the way from Butte County, where a new and fast growing firestorm was blowing through 15,000 acres with no signs of slowing, and 1000 ‘s of people were fleeing. Oh no, not again.

And I still thought that referred just to the fire.

ono not again

acrylic and cheesecloth texture on watercolor paper, 10 X 11″

Out in my studio  I looked around for a way to give shape to what I was feeling. A cheesecloth textured piece reminded me of a horizon in flames.  I knew I was looking for the faces of those who would be fleeing the conflagration.

We refer to a mask of fear, of sorrow, and this is what I wanted as a kind of prayer of solidarity. Yes, I was grateful to find out that the fire was not closer, at least not this time, but. . .I still feel the fear, and the loss.

And then I’m watching the evening news about the shooting in Thousand Oaks, a country western music night for young people, some of whom lost their lives and others who will never feel totally safe again. And then the news announcer uses these words, “people are saying oh no, not again”.

What the season holds in store

I got out the cheesecloth in Monday Muse Group and realized I would have to learn all over again how to make interesting textures with it. I was still refreshing my memory when I did this one before class. God awful bright,  I know, but this is the season of rich colors, so why not?!

season

Skies aflame and birds circling. They know what the weather signifies, what the season change holds in store for anyone who pays attention to the timber of the light, to the patterning in the fields, to the leaves and seed pods in dense clusters of writing that black birds comprehend as they follow their own flight patterns and land in choreographed formations designed to satisfy the hunger of bellies so long aloft.

You English teachers might be annoyed with the run-on sentence, but the leaves don’t pause for you to notice them falling or the river slow down so you can freeze action. This season is coming on us in glorious and unsettling ways that doesn’t allow for regular punctuation. Are you getting into some spookiness?

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.

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.  . .

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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!