Figurative Abstracts

A Muse Lesson on Canvas

We always paint on watercolor paper in Muse Group, but every once in a while I get out my big role of canvas and cut pieces for everyone. I like to take my (loose) canvas paintings and use them as book cloth to make covers for the Muse portfolio/journal books (bound loose leaf with rings).

movingAcrylic on gessoed canvas fabric with canvas collage, 12.5X13.5″

When a figure emerged, rushing along like she was on fire! I recognized myself, dashing through my days in constant pursuit of accomplishing something or other. I must have been thinking of gardening and the blooming of azaleas. . . And I had just read a poem by Pablo Neruda. Here’s an excerpt which starts with the above quote:

Keeping Quiet (excerpt)

If we were not so simple-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.

-Pablo Neruda

canvasrollnscrape

Gesso and black ink squirted on canvas, rolled over with brayer and scraped off with a color shaper.

How easy it is to create fun textures with some fluid acrylics and two tools. . .in less than five minutes! I was thinking I could cut or tear it up for collage, but will probably make it the back cover of a book!

bookcovers

Two of my mixed media portfolio books, opened to show the canvas covers.

The artwork, mostly done in Muse Groups gets added to the easy ring binding. I have three boxes of these books now, going back to 2005! Before that I just threw my art in flat file drawers where it was forgotten, or in the bin. This has been such a satisfying way to document not only the lessons I learn and teach, but contemplations and writings which are on the backs of the each piece of art (and archived here in the blog!)

(To be continued with more recent lessons and opportunities to join.)

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She has a lot to balance

balance

fluid acrylics mixed with pouring medium on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

She has a lot to balance right now. Sometimes she wonders if she’s up to it, what with all the competing demands for her time.  Often two opposing forces merge in a fast moving river and she gets taken downstream for a while until she can find a grassy bank or sandy bottom to gain a foothold. She would like to say “It’s my life, my decision what I do now.” But she knows there’s no point. She’d make the same choices and end up here again.

And then she notices. . .how rather perfectly that ball is already balanced. . .

Is there anything more wonderful than watching paint flow?! Tipping and pouring and tipping back another way and watching the streams of color merge. Then maybe someone or some creature or story emerges. In this case it was a woman and the ball she is balancing was a medallion made of poured paint that completed her story. Two very simple paint strokes finished it. Can you guess where?

Moving on a bit

The fire contemplation persists, though not on purpose. This lady rises up on her own, appearing during a string of bad hair days, determined to use that which she has at hand to have her say.

ladyofflames

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

Lady of flames has moved on to egg laying, using ashes to adorn her hair, and pieces of bark and branches in her hat. And from this unlikely combo sprouts a bloom and a brand new egg.  How amused she is by this hat-become-nest. A new fashion. Combined with a bit of feather and frill it suits her healing spirit. And all the while a heart shaped coal burns softly in her throat, reminding her of the flame from which she so recently arose.

The fire engine red of the trucks and the fire itself has become the firey red of autumn foliage, vineyards in richer warm hues than any palette could produce. I no longer have hens, but I know that they lay fewer eggs when the days grow short. Then each egg becomes a special gift.

Perhaps an egg would heal my hair problem?

Tyvek Christmas

More angels of a Tyvek sort. Lumiere paint by Jacguard of the duochrome sort, like Halo Blue Gold, is what I recommend. Paint the Tyvek, cut out shapes and watch them bend and twist as you touch the iron to them. Dancing angels! If you hold the iron too long you get a hole, but since angels are ethereal, they don’t particularly mind.

I found some lovely faces for them, and then made lots more. I think I’ll have an Angel tree this Christmas.

angelflock

And then there’s the dancing star. . .

butterflyAnd I think I’ll make some more butterflies now. The body is a Tyvek bead wrapped in gold wire. My studio is full of so much color now!

Some Angels

December is always craft making month for me, and I prefer to do it with friends, whether it’s pine-y garlands, ornaments, or hand made presents. This week I invited my coffee friends, Liz and Sandy and Kay, over to play with Tyvek, a synthetic paper that melts in radically cool ways when you heat it with an iron or heat gun. After our session there were some interesting pieces left behind, and one of them became this angel. We all need angels now and so I’ve dedicated the month of December to inviting angels in.

someangelsAcrylic painted Tyvek collaged onto painted 300 lb. w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Some angels wear their hearts on their sleeves, but I prefer mine dangling. I am incognito in my elaborate angel garb, but I am not an illusion. 

Take my heart home with you and you’ll get it. This transcend-dance thing is for all of us.

I would love to do a lesson on this in my Artful Muse classes, but alas, we would need a lot more electrical capacity for the irons than my little studio can handle. However, if you want to do the painting and “melting” of the paper at home and bring it to class, I have discovered a way to adhere it reliably, crinkles and all, to the paper surface! There are videos on line, like this one, about how to do this first part, which just takes some experimentation. Actually I found out about it from a friend/student in my class. Thank you Ellyn!

Next: Christmas tree angels and a bearer of tidings!

The Quest for Beauty

chrysalid2

“Chrysalid II”, inks, gesso, pencil, collage on canvas 24″X24″

In his book Wabi Sabi: Further Thoughts, Leonard Koren shares the quest for beauty that led  him to explore more deeply the wabi-sabi way.  In his definition of beauty he writes:

By “beauty” I mean that complex of exciting, pleasurable sensations-ostensibly emanating from things – that makes us feel more alive and connected to the world.  Often these feelings are accompanied by a compelling sense of truth, goodness, and/or love.

I can’t think of a better explanation for why I paint! But it goes beyond that to an honoring of life, with all its natural processes. Wabi sabi is a celebration of the roughness and unevenness of life as it unfolds in bumps and starts, one forward and two steps back. I imagine the gnarled old apple tree in my garden that wears its age with the grace and originality as I aspire to. The rusty garden implements, the grasses draping over my walkway, and in my studio – the torn paper and textured surfaces I love to paint on.

 

Muddy Angels

muddyangel

acrylic on acrylic textured surface with gold leaf on canvas, 24″ x 24″

I’ve always believed in the angels that walk among us, as us. The ones that get their feet dirty with the messes of everyday living and that occasionally sparkle with divine light shining through the cracks!

In my own struggle to capture these earthly/heavenly creatures of multi-dimensions onto a two dimensional surface,  I started by borrowing from one who succeeded in this – Michelangelo. Through all my struggles with intention, technique and media, not to mention feelings of inadequacy, I finally stopped and saw a rather startling depiction of a story unfolding in my own life just now. In the interests of allowing space for you, the viewer, to react with your own personal interpretation, I must leave it at that.

Technique-wise I employed my favorite Golden acrylics, light molding paste for textural build up and Micaceous Iron Oxide and other copper and gold mixed with other pigments to create that other-worldly patina.

Over the years angels have been coming to roost on my canvases. You can see more of them  and here and here.