Nature Abstractions

This Week’s Sketch Lures

The exotic lure of passion vine. I have one growing on the outside wall of my studio. When I was doing Open Studios in the fall this vine would frequently upstage my paintings. Visitors would be snared by its seductive blooms peeking out demurely from dense foliage. They would arrive in my studio not with interest in the paintings, but anxious to know the name of the exotic bloom. Eagerly they would thrust their iPhone picture, just taken, at me for an answer.

Recently one of my students remarked on the heady fragrance from the vine, noticed even before the blooms. On a perfect early fall day this week I myself succumbed to the mystery and brought out a folding chair and my sketch gear to hang out with one particularly well situated bloom.

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I got a respectable enough but rather ho-hum sketch and was bested yet again by this showy flower. You can see my problem. Look at the palette of color and shapely forms of one of nature’s own prima ballerinas!

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Even after I tried all my cool tricks like splatter and framing and such, I had lost heart to try again. Today maybe I’ll just sit for a few minutes, allow the vine’s spell to enfold me, and celebrate its beauty without trying to copy it.

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Every other Sunday I attend a meditation session and discourse by my Tibetan Buddhist teacher in Point Richmond, then drive home to Sebastopol. This Sunday I’d brought my sketch gear and took some time to eat lunch and sketch in the tiny town square. Point Richmond, even with its proximity to San Francisco and Oakland, has maintained a delightful small town ambiance with much of the cultural diversity and artistic interest found in other areas of the Bay Area. My plan is to work my way around the couple blocks of the town, enjoying some Sunday sketching as long as the weather holds.

 

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Mixed Media workshops this fall!

There’s always ideas percolating for mixed media lessons I’d like to teach in my Monday Muse Group and weekend workshops. For instance, inspired by Gustav Klimt, whose gilded paintings will be shown this fall in an exhibition at the Legion of Honor in S.F., we’ll be working with metallics. . .then a simple form of monotype printing and the very popular “stick painting” where we make expressive mark beginnings with carved sticks. . .then exploring color transparencies to get that eye saturating sense of depth.

If any of these interest you, you may want to reserve your spot in either the weekly Muse Group in my studio or the weekend workshop at Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Here’s the scoop!

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At this writing there are two spots left in the Monday Afternoon group. For more info and to register visit my website.

And if you like a whole weekend to develop your paintings, the following workshop may appeal.

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For more information and to register contact me. I hope to be painting with you this fall!

Inside-Outside Nature Art

We combined the elements of fire and water in Monday’s Muse lesson of powdered charcoal. For fire we had the charcoal residues of fire and the scorching solar heat. The water was washed streaming over the charcoal to make it move beautifully across the paper. In previous years when I taught this lesson 2014 and 2016 it was similarly in hot-hot weather, the better to quickly dry the sopping wet papers!

Here’s my finished demo:

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acrylic and collage on powdered graphite texture, 10 X 11″

The world is divided by borders; mountains and rivers and oceans and lines to keep people separate. Would we know who we are without all the borders or would we stand in confusion looking up at the sky in hopes of getting directives there?

I vote for color that streams across borders and makes a rainbow sky, a rainbow country, and a rainbow world. 

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Sprinkle some powdered charcoal on the dry paper. Here I added some iridescent pigment powder as well. Pour water over the surface and watch the spontaneous dispersion. When dry you can come back in with an eraser, which I did in this, erasing through a stencil.

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I love the way the charcoal granules pattern the paper surface. When this stage is dry and before adding paint, spray workable fixative or mat medium diluted with water and let that dry to seal the charcoal.

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We went outside in the shade to do the charcoal sprinkling and water pouring.

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The charcoal is in the salt shaker in front.  The stencils and iridescent pigments were particularly popular and now my garden sparkles in the light a bit more than usual!

MuseGraphite-03_edited-1The splatter screen served as a kind of sifter for the charcoal.

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I always love to see nature art in the context of the nature that inspires it. Here it is just leaves and mulch.

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. . .and tree trunks and garden green and the beginning of fall leaves, and the golden glow of light spreads across the painting making it a part of it all.MuseGraphite-05

. . .and here, in anticipation of what this fall season will bring!

Thanks to the Muse students for once again taking a lesson beyond its previous borders. These beautiful beginnings made their way back into the studio to be developed with more color and some collage.

 

Beauty

This Monday each time I looked up from my painting to check on the Muse Group students, they were working intently and without pause on their paintings. No one had questions. There seemed to be a host of silent advisors in the room (the ones we call Muses) directing the activity. In the lesson we were using opaque passages to sculpt and design shapes on transparent under paintings. Rivers of inks and fluid acrylics were flowing onto the pages. Next day I rescued the paper towels from the trash and made a corsage.

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I would like to wear this or make it wall sized. Spray it with shellac to preserve it. Make tiny ones to put on pins or hair clips. Design sheets and mugs and T-shirts. And I will probably do none of these, but go back to my delectable acrylic paints for more stunning combinations, which seem endless!

We’ve been enjoying the poetry of John O’Donahue to inspire our own understanding of Beauty. If you want to partake of his insights you might enjoy his interview on the podcast On Being.

This week we contemplated color. In his book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace O’Donahue wrote “Color is always reaching toward us. The eye is the secret destination of color. A color is never alone for each color arises through the interplay of other colors. Color is always a dance with invisible partners.”

The interplay of complementary colors is just such a dance. Once you know that its the red that makes a green landscape vibrate with green-ness you are gaining access to the secret kingdom of color.

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(class demo using semi-opaque green passages glazed over a red background)

Some Beauty is sharp and cutting, pricking into areas long hidden, letting the air out of bubbles, lurking and then jabbing and hiding again behind blooms and pretty smiles, this floral guise designed to lure and then strike at that which needs cutting down.

Its all in the plan, this poke that teaches even as it hurts, then swabs the wound with its beguiling beauty.

Mix Those Media! Workshop

Here’s the flyer for a new weekend workshop I’m offering in November ! 

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 1.44.02 PMFor more information check out my website. Feel free to contact me with any questions and to register. Hope you can come!

A Square Creates Order (or tries)

A square attempts to bring order out of chaos here in this demo from the Patina workshop last weekend. The last touch was a bit of scumbling over the rough surface with a finger dipped in bronze paint.

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Workshop demo: acrylic on textured surface, painted foil and mylar collage on w/c paper

Try looking in the mirror. This personhood has so many fun house distortions . Open those windows and the pieces buzz around and fly out. Airborne they eventually become stars and find their way home to a green planet somewhere you are.

 

Mixed Media workshop coming up!

On June 24 and 25 I’ll be teaching a workshop on one of my favorite techniques – achieving the look of patina in experimental mixed media painting. At the moment my studio is strewn with my own experiments and ideas I want to share. There are a couple spaces left in the workshop at this writing. Let me know if you’re interested and available to come join us!

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For more information and to register visit my website!