Figurative Abstracts

Ghost of Christmas

powdered graphite, PearlEx Pigments, matte medium, collage, etc on w/c paper, 10 X 10″

A brief jaunt into the macabre for these days of waning light.  She drips icy snow, gazing back in time while pointing a gnarly finger threateningly at the future.  She visits Scrooge on the eve of his spectacular rebirth into the spirit of Christmas.  Don’t we all shiver and shake just a bit at this time of year, trying to stay warm, to head off the colds and flu, to adjust to more family density or memories of a time when there was a bit more holiday perfection?

My home is full to the bursting now, with only two more residents, but big hungry home from college guys who descend on a breakfast of bacon and sausage and 4 eggs each as though they were farm hands about to head out to slop the pigs and milk the cows in below freezing weather.  Instead they set up their link to their worlds on the counter – side by side, two laptops taking turns sharing music, Facebooking, checking grades and more.  Later the bar bells start clanking.  And so the empty nest is filled. We got so quickly used to the quiet routine of a middle aged couple. . .but this is more fun.



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

Do you ever have the feeling, when you look in the mirror, that the other person staring back at you is about as familiar to you as your voice played back on a recording?  Who IS that? you think.

These rohrshachs are a bit like that.  There’s often some human or other creature’s face in there that’s looking back at itself and wondering. . .is that what i look like?

The Layered Figure

gouache and pencil on newsprint collaged on a figure sketch

I went to Thursday Night Drawing Group armed with old drawings I’d collaged over, not because I’ve run out of paper, but because I find it more engaging to interact with an interesting surface than white paper.

The poor model was suffering from a migraine which seemed to keep working its way into my drawings.  It’s unavoidable that the state of the model gets absorbed by those who sit and observe.  I liked the connection of the puzzles and weather pages with a brain plagued by pain.  Maybe it’s the sometimes unwelcome complexity of life that seems to bring with it discomfort at the least and intense pain at its worst.

Student Inks and Textures

by Sarah

Starting by texturing the watercolor paper with thick gesso and then a bit of salt dropped in places, letting it dry and then painting loosely with inks. Here’s some more of the playful landscapes created by the students in the workshop last weekend.

by Joyce

Starting out with a circular, radiating design in the texture Joyce captured the rolling dynamics of the surf, adding collage for interest.

by Gayle

and adding collage to an abstract landscape to build mystery and create story. . .

by Kate

. . .layers of textures and inks and irridescents for more landscape magic. . .

by Silvia

 Here is Silvia’s figurative painting over textures over text written with an ink dropper!

by Barbara

. . .and another textured figure, this one dancing!

by Penny

Some ink blot fun here!  Can you see Penny’s name written in pink?  Write your name on one side of a fold with an ink dropper, fold over and press. . .

Muse Students Create Citrasolv Art

Citrasolved paper collage and acrylics on w/c paper 10 X 11″

by Muse Muriel

As promised I want to share some of the amazing art created in the Muse Group last weekend!

by Muse Kendra

by Muse Barbara

When you sprinkle the Citrasolv (cleaning fluid concentrate) on National Geographics, close the book and let it “cook” for about 10 minutes, you get wildly beautiful ink patterns and some ghostly images peeking through.  The kind of stuff that sends the imagination realing!

by Muse Shawna

by Muse Paula

by Muse Peggy

Each one of these pieces served as the catalyst for a written piece that took us deeper into the domain of expanded poetic imagery, very heady stuff!

And ironically enough, the only large painting I’ve done that features Citrasolv collaged papers was just juried into the Collage and Assemblage show opening at Sebastopol Center for the Arts this Thursday 6-7:30pm.  The painting is titled “Rose and Me”.

Acrylic and collage on illustration board, 20 X 15″

by Me

Madame Butterfly

“Madame Butterfly”, Acrylic on w/c paper, 11″X7″

Another in the Meta- series of color studies which will be available at Art at the Source Open Studios first two weekends in June.

My garden is full of butterflies right now, mostly Pipevine Swallowtails with an occational Tiger Swallowtail, and lots of those juicy black with neon orange polk dotted caterpillars, very hungry ones.  My youngest son graduates from high school today and is undergoing his own metamorphosis, which of course precipitates my own (empty nest anticipation).  When the inner confusion of it all gets strong, I squat down in the vines and watch the caterpillars munching, getting it all back into perspective.


“Metamoth”, Acrylic, acrylic skins on w/c paper, 11 X 7″

I’ve been having a lot of fun with color studies and using skins of leftover acrylic paint to decorate them.  There’s often a figurative element along with wings, and in this series, the suggestion of butterfly/moth shapes and metamorphosis.

I love words, so I looked up “meta” and found an interesting word history:

prefix meaning 1. “after, behind,” 2. “changed, altered,” 3. “higher, beyond,” from Gk. meta  (prep.) “in the midst of, in common with, by means of, in pursuit or quest of,” from PIE *me-  “in the middle” (cf. Goth. miþ , O.E. mið  “with, together with, among;” see mid). Notion of “changing places with” probably led to senses “change of place, order, or nature,” which was a principal meaning of the Gk. word when used as a prefix (but also denoting “community, participation; in common with; pursuing”). Third sense, “higher than, transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of,” is due to misinterpretation of metaphysics as “science of that which transcends the physical.”

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

My favorite, of course, is the third sense of transcending.

This painting as well as the others I’ve been posting will be shown in my studio sale coming up the first two weekends in June.  Check here for more details of Art at the Source Open Studios and I hope (if you’re local) to see you then!

Dual Identity

acrylic, collage with CitraSolv magazine papers on illustration board, 20 X 15″

It would be fun to make a story from this painting, but I’ll leave that to you.  I took it out today after letting it sit in a drawer unfinished for months.  The “solutions” finally presented themselves, not in story form but in shapes and colors and their connections.

I started out with some National Geographic pages that had been “Citra Solved” to release some unusual images.  This is all the rage in mixed media painting circles these days.  Pretty simple.  You splash some Citra Solv cleaning fluid onto pages of National Geographics and as soon as the inks start to dissolve, tear out the pages which have turned into ghostly, mysterious and wonderful shapes and colors.  Let them dry and you have papers for collage.  Of course the next step is harder. . .integrating them into a painting. . .which is why this one was in the drawer for so long.

I’m working on a title and would welcome suggestions!  This and many of the other paintings you’ve seen here for the past few months will be for sale at Art at the Source Open Studios the first two weekends in June!  Hope to see you then.  I’ll also be doing painting demos each of the four days.

Back from Sedona

Pink Lady, acrylic on w/c paper, 10 X 10″

Back from Sedona with piles of unfinished paintings from the Robert Burridge workshop last week and renewed excitement for my painting life!  I think I will be digesting all that I learned for the next couple years at least.  Bob Burridge is a painter who makes teaching painting into a performance art with lots of laughter and encouragement to be outrageously creative. . .my kinda guy.

So I’ll try to share bits and pieces of my experience here and definitely in the Muse groups and upcoming workshops.  And if you want to meet him and his art in person, he’ll be at the Sausalito Art Fair this summer.

Did you guess that the above piece is a color study?

Green Lady, 11 X 7″

You guessed it. Another color study with green as the dominant color.  I did six with different color schemes and a theme of “chance” with playing card collage.

Arboreal Guardian

Acrylic, collage on Masa paper mounted on w/c paper, 27 X 21″

After the title for this piece “Arboreal Guardian” came I was reminded of Julia Butterfly Hill and her legendary relationship with Luna, the giant redwood tree she inhabited for two years.  When she speaks of that time, it is with such reverence for the great spirit of the tree whose life she defended with her own life (from the chain saws of the lumber company). She feels that the tree in fact saved her as well, taught her patience and flexibility and endurance.  Luna became her spiritual teacher.

None of this was consciously in my mind as I painted this piece.  Actually whatever was in my mind refuses at this moment to be put into words!  Which is as it should be.  The image will speak louder. . .