Fantascapes

The Sky Up There

One morning this week I sat at my dining room table facing the sunrise view, watercolor paints at the ready, hoping to capture the breathtaking sky drama. The sky was streaked with salmon color and every variation on blues and dark strings of clouds with bright yellow-orange-red undersides, and I started to put paint down in great haste. Every few seconds I looked up and it had changed. And then it started to rain. And then it stopped and a whole new cast of cloud characters entered the stage. Fifteen minutes from beginning to end of my sketch and I admitted that I had just tried to paint several different skies and ended up with mud (which always translates to indecision!)

So I thought I’d try a different approach, and paint the inner sky, or at least the one I remembered. After all, we look to the sky to help clear our minds, and never has there been a greater need of that. I got out my gouache paints which I thought might help with the pastel colors I imagined. 

But it wasn’t long before the sky started jumping around, and what was at first clear, became muddled and even opposite. Sound like something else we’ve been experiencing a lot lately?

the sky we think is up

there but we live in our inner

sky where we float and bob

the day along

as up becomes

down horizons appear

and disappear

A whacky ride which

flips us on our ear

leaves us standing wobbly

teetering on the edge

with a faulty gyroscope

and no wings

My Woods

Trees and skies, that is the theme my group of Muse sisters is pursuing in our art exploits now. There is a beautiful birch tree by our driveway which has been enticing me to paint it’s white bark again. So I got out some Masa paper and wet and crinkled it, and did the thing where you drag your brush along the tops of the wrinkles. . .and instant trees without all the fuss of getting it “right”.

With these mixed media pieces I always poke around til I find something to add that might tickle the imagination. And, well, you’ll see what I found. . .a bit of enchantment.

India ink, fluid acrylics, crinkled Masa paper mounted on w/c paper and collaged on

I like to imagine a walk in the woods

And I’d come upon a native

Or maybe I’d be hidden in a bramble

And he wouldn’t know I was watching

(Though that seems unlikely

It being after all more his wood than mine)

But let’s just say he didn’t see me

And I was the stealthy one

Who picked up his scent of hide skin and smoke

With some tree sap thrown in

And it was I who wondered

What bird offered up its feathers

And they looked like they belonged there

On his head

 

But I’m imagining as a white woman

Who grew up in a house with central heat

And got her clothes from stores

And saw Nature as something altogether different,

Separate and wildly mysterious

And mostly out of reach

Hence my stories about

What might have been

If I’d slept in a teepee

And danced to drumbeats and

Cooked over an open fire

And learned to heal with herbs.

 

But back to the native here

This is after all my woods he has entered

On his horse with his rifle in hand

I do not fear him

He has entered my enchantment

Time to Winter

Do you ever try to think like a tree? Like in “Gee I’m so thirsty!” or “It’s getting so cold. I’d enjoy a blanket of leaf mulch to restore my energies.” This piece made me think like a tree.

I started by painting foliage and trunk shapes with water and droppering three acrylic inks into the water shapes so they moved and blended while I tipped the paper. Then I took a color shaper and pulled some of the wet ink out to create branches and spritzed the foliage lightly with water to suggest leaf shapes.

Daler Rowney acrylic inks: Antelope Brown, Indian Yellow, Dutch Blue

Time to winter

send roots down there

with the gopher and grub

under the shroom spore and worm tracks

While we sleep

they do the work

turn leaf mulch and water

into blooming flower beds

So take a deep

soul

quieting

breath

of loamy air

Settle into the perfection of this season

Bee Doodles

One day a week ago the blazing fall colors were what occupied the art-mind-space, so I squirted fluid acrylics paints on the paper and started finger painting madly with them. Then let the piece incubate a few days and did some drawing with inks. Playing with the inks on another piece of scratch paper (the bee and flowers with white), I ended up cutting them out and collaging them to the painting. A rather riotous garden emerged, and then the words.

I doodle at my table

strewn with pencils,

pens, paints, papers 

scissors. . .

bees doodle too

with pollen pastels

like this bug eyed one

whose trail I follow

to still the swirl of mind

Get Your Art Groove On: Free Lesson!

OK, is your sock drawer straightened up yet? Larder stocked? Then it’s time to sit down for some art fun. Here’s a lesson I videotaped 7 years ago as part of an online course called: In the Company of Muses: Adventures in Mixed Media Art Journaling. I think it’s time to release it again.

griffin

To watch the video demonstration click here.

Have a go, have fun, and let me know how it goes! And I’ll post another lesson next week.

 

Love is the Cure!

My gift to you on Valentine’s Day is Rumi and a painting inspired by his ecstatic poetry. First, the poem. . .

Love is the cure,

for your pain will keep giving birth to more pain

until your eyes constantly exhale love as effortlessly

as your body yields its scent.

loveisthecure

acrylic and collage and gel pens on acrylic textured w/c paper, 10 X 11″

In Muse Group this week we painted larger, on 1/2 sheets of watercolor paper (15X22″), in acrylic and then used cropping borders to find the painting “gems” within the borders. Some of us left the painting whole and others (like me) cut it up.

Here’s the painting before carving.

hearts1

Now I also have an assortment of interesting “remnants” to put together in another painting, which I may share. . . if and when it comes together.

Now enjoy your chocolate and whatever lovemaking of the emotional, carnal, and/or spiritual kind you have in mind for this lovely non-holiday.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa

When I first moved here to Sebastopol, California 19 years ago and saw the flat lands below my house fill up with water and birds after winter rains; saw the mustard bloom stretch out like a neon yellow carpet, I knew I would have to find a way onto the land and water to explore. This area, known as The Laguna de Santa Rosa, encompasses the ecologically rich watershed lands that span from Forestville and the Russian River south to Cotati.

Eventually I managed to get out on the water and paddle, and I joined the plein aire painters who sometimes had access to the private Laguna lands. Later I learned of the vernal pools and explored them on the magical Lynmar Winery lands on the Laguna. I became convinced that I’d moved to one of the more exotic places on Earth!

Fast forward to this week when the winter rainstorms abated, the sun came out, and I parked by the side of Sanford Road to do some mini Laguna captures.

mustardx2

The traffic was roaring by so I wasn’t particularly comfortable and needed to find a place a bit more relaxed.

laguna1

This time I visited the Laguna Foundation which is open during weekdays and not only has views of the mustard bloom and Mayacama mountains behind but also the Heron Art gallery that features nature oriented art by a different artist every four months and Stone Farm with its weathered barns and farm equipment.

laguna2

And my sketch buddies joined me for a day of sketching and picnicking on site. I remembered sketching this barn 18 years ago when there were also cows, and not yet the offices of a Foundation with nature workshops, land stewardship programs, native plant gardeners, community education programs and so much more.

laguna3

Sitting here with my back to the “pond” and listening to a chorus of marsh birds.

laguna4

At this point my eyes were weary from the bright sunlight, so I sat in the shade of the maintenance man’s truck and enjoyed a closer subject matter. It’s so much easier to see what you’re doing when the sun isn’t shining either directly in your eyes or on your white paper!

lynmar

I’ll have to save a watery Laguna sketch for another day! This is the view from Lynmar Estates.

The mustard bounty will last a while longer. It’s a great excuse to get out with your sketchbook, listen to bird song, and experience that gratitude that we feel for living in the midst of such abundant natural beauty.

For more of my Laguna art see Herons on the Laguna, A Tale of Wings, Vernal Pools and A Harvest Gala

 

Celebrate!

celebrate

acrylic monoprint with collaged stamp prints on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

They say the heavenly angels are around this time of year with their hosannas and hallelujahs, exhorting us to celebrate a birthday with them. And today I noticed multitudes of mushrooms poking their heads up from their moist earth beds to join in.

The mushrooms are a divine wonder in this land of fires. Some of the outcroppings of ‘shrooms are so tiny I must use my reading glasses to see them. They remind me of childhood reveries where fairies inhabited the forest lands where I roamed. The moist earth is a heady concoction.

This monoprint is another piece from the “laboratory” of ideas I’m exploring for the next Playful Muse series of mixed media classes in my studio. It starts Monday, January 21 and runs 6 weeks. There are two spots left at this point. If you think one of them possibly has your name on it, you can find out more and register on my website.

 

Expressive Drawing/Painting

We painters all need to get over ourselves and take a break from trying to get our paintings to “turn out”.  Every now and then anyway. So on a Monday when the class was small I moved the Muse Group out to the garden for some expressive drawing and painting with abandon and without technique or rules, on big paper and and holding the sticks, pencils, charcoal, and ink droppers loosely by the end, and in the stance of a matador, lunging forward and back. It was really too much fun!

Here’s a couple of mine.

expressive2

pencil, ink (dropper), watercolor crayon and gesso on 20X30″ paper

expressive1

When we’d run out of steam we brought our paintings inside and used mat board corners to see what abstract gems we’d unwittingly produced and were impressed with ourselves.

A few days later when I was in dire need of an art fix (I’ll spare you the details) I thought I would play around with “finishing” this one and see what it had to tell me. With some cutting and pasting and more paint the above painting became this. . .

expressive3

. . .and as I kept trying to make sense of it, a little demon slipped out!

The Self Critic puts her foot out to trip me.

Then as I fall, screams LOSER!

Aha! So the A is for A Loser!

I drew in the word Loser and knew I was done.

Do you know an artist who doesn’t feel like a loser sometimes?

 

The Bouquets Continued. . .

On my visit to the Bouquets to Art exhibit at the De Young Museum last month, my eyes became saturated with the 120 stunning floral displays exhibited with the art they were responding to. I left with a voracious hunger for the floral image. Not surprisingly the fact that it is springtime here and everything that is not in bloom is swelling up with potential, has encouraged more bouquets of art.

homebouquet2

fountain pen and watercolor in Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook 5.5X8.5″

These Calla lilies, picked from my garden and placed in a lovely little ceramic vase. Not a very skilled arrangement to say the least. But the next morning I saw that I had created a most humble but appealing Bouquet to Art! And so I sketched it to add to the collection in my sketchbook.

homebouquet

In the living room with my painting “Alvus” in the background.

And then as we started a new Muse Group, we used some fun mixed media techniques to create. . .floral paintings of course!

redsbouquetLots of acrylic paint slathered and fingerpainted on and scraped back to a warm underlayer of paint.

secretrsafterrain

There should be a way to get inside spring. To walk around first, hop up and grab a stem or branch, and stand up on the rim of it. Look down, and then ??

Secrets are like that. They don’t reveal themselves easily. They wait in the dark, hide behind the flowers and let you get all woozy with the fragrance so you forget to look. Do you really, really want to know what’s there?

Hang out a bit longer, just another minute.  Oh no! There you go again, drifting off. Spring is like that. Those blossoms give no sure footing, especially after a drizzling rain.

Does this part of spring make you a bit woozy? Does it make you want to do everything all at once and then to just sit still, do nothing, breathe it in? We’ve been drenched in sunlight here, watching the apply blossoms pop and the clouds of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies drunkenly imbibing their blossom nectar brew, then swooping down to lay their almost invisible eggs on the vines.