acrylic and collage

There’s More to Sight Than Eyes (again)

I was just sitting down to figure out what I would teach for the first lesson of The Playful Muse workshop starting this week. I always like to start a mixed media series with fun paint application techniques to loosen us all up. Drip creatures is one of my favorite lessons because it’s silly and profound at the same time! So I looked up past blog posts on the Drip Creature theme and found this one from seven years ago. Lo and behold, it revealed my uneasiness about recent murky vision. Turns out that once again this is exactly my concern today! So here I am reposting it and letting it both speak to my fears and give me a much needed prayer of hope.

 

(from the 2016 post) I thought I was just being playful with this one, picking up an old class demo of a kind of ink drip creature. And then, no kidding, it started to talk to me about something I needed to hear!

I can see you sitting there, thinking about your eyes, one clear and one struggling to see through spots and threads and the murky patch.

Look me in the eye and repeat after me: I can see just fine. This cage of one eye is translucent and does not a prison make. I have three eyes to take the place of the one

and the world keeps opening.

Drip creatures tend to be a combination of many species and so they exist outside the realm of waking mind where we have convinced ourselves that things are a certain way that we can explain.

Yes, my left eye has a retinal occlusion for which there is treatment. . . of sorts, and yes I must be reminded not to worry, but to notice all the ways my other senses and brain fill in the blanks, giving me for the most part decent sight. I won’t soon forget this colorful and bizarre image, like something right out of a dream, or perhaps a prayer. (end of 2016 post)

 

And now (2023!) dealing with cloudy vision again, I feel so comforted, remembering that I have three eyes, and the world keeps opening!

If you want to try your own (prophetic!) drip creatures, look at this post for some simple instructions and give it a try!

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World on the Move!

acrylic inks and paint, collaged textured paper on 10 X 11″ w/c paper

World on the move

Mass Migration

In peaceful flight or famine and plight

Through nourishing rainfall or missiles in skyfall

Emigration, Resettlement

Expulsion, Exodus, Ejection

Dispossession, Displacement, Dispersion

Evacuation, Banishment 

                    Extinction. . .

Watch out! This is what can happen when you cut up an old painting that’s going nowhere. It starts to find kinship with this moment in history and acquires a mind of its own. Or so it seems.

Process: I liked the textures and colors of the “old painting” and started cutting out some bird shapes and then one turned into a building and another a kind of avian-human that requested a colorful hat. 

The first underpainting was this one, and a storm developed. Not surprising, since we are in the dark stormy part of the year when you’re liable to freeze or blown, or get very wet if you go outside.

It was the scene I needed for the creatures I’d cut out. Some were simply pieces left on the table in the jumble of cuttings. They became a kind of graveyard or decomposing of organic matter, benevolent in itself, but slightly disturbing in context.

I have lived with these pieces for part of a week and am ready to put them to rest now. But you never know what might come next?!

Muses Do WORDPLAY

Last week was class three of a three-week series of The Playful Muse mixed media group. We’re adjourning for the holidays and I will be teaching a six week version of (always new) mixed media lessons in January and February. I wanted to share the students’ Wordplay pieces here since each one is not only totally original and unique, but a rich palimpsest of its own! (See yesterday’s post for more on that lesson)

by Muse Jan
by Muse John
by Muse Nancy
by Muse Helena
by Muse Lorna
by Muse Lorna

I hope you’ll try it too and would love to hear your experience!

For more on creating a palimpsest as an intention for mixed media pieces, visit this blog post for more.

Brown paper and marks

Olympia Muse Group, session 2, Mark Making

Here we are in the studio with lesson two of the Playful Muse series: making marks on brown paper with sticks, bamboo pens and strange nibs, fingers, etc. My Muse Group friends in Sebastopol will recognize this lesson from my visit last March! We in the Olympia Muse Group chapter had fun with it too! Just getting started with it in this picture.

Everyone got a long sheet of brown craft paper to make random expressive marks on, the idea being that interesting things would happen spontaneously, and could be cut out and used as collage pieces in another work.

One suggestion was to try writing, preferably with unusual implements, in an invented style. This practice has been called asemic writing, defined as

a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means “having no specific semantic content”, or “without the smallest unit of meaning”. With the non-specificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning, which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. [Wikipedia]

In other words, Asemic writing is sort of a tease. In wanting to make sense of it, because it is, after all, writing or appears to be, we go out on a limb and come up with some sensation at least, that feels like meaning and we like it!

In preparation for the class I tried a number of mark making approaches with Chinese black ink, charcoal and gesso. I just love the combination of those three. Included is asemic writing. And the general effect is, well, very Wabi Sabi!

Chinese black ink, gesso, charcoal, photo copies, bamboo stick, parallel pen nib, brown and translucent washi papers

Here they are laid out together with some other possible collage pieces tucked in. This shows step two, which is to find some other collage pieces that may interact in some way with the exploratory beginnings on the brown paper. The linear thinking part of the brain goes into overload trying to make sense of all this confusion and blows a fuse.

Now you’re free to cut things out, move them around, and reassemble, still holding off trying to make logical sense of what the poetic pictorial mind, heedless of logic! is constructing. 

Chinese black ink, gesso, charcoal, collage on brown paper and washi paper on w/c paper!

She speaks with two voices in song

One a night creature on transparent wings

Sprinkling stardust and hooting

The other appearing as a saint 

Or a goddess made of saplings and mist

Both writing their names in ancient

Tongues on the forest floor.

I always stick to the 10″X11″ size watercolor paper format for the finished pieces and put them in a loose book format. This archives them with the writing. At this point I have 48 books worth or 760 pieces I call Conversations with the Muse! and all of them archived on this blog. But this format is not for everyone and my students have adopted many different formats.

Here’s some more of the Olympia students’ mark making play. Wouldn’t you love to have at it?!!

New Muse Group starting!

The Muse Group is not something I could keep to myself. For sixteen years this mixed media practice I called Conversations With the Muse was a staple of my art life. Emphasis on group here. You can’t have one if you paint alone. The creative energy is far stronger with the muse energy of a group. And I just couldn’t wrap my mind around teaching in front of a computer and camera. So finally next month I’ll be offering The Playful Muse: Mixed Media Painting, a three week series before the holidays ramp up. It will be live, in-person for people in the Olympia area, but I will also be blogging about the lessons if you want to follow along! Here’s the flyer and information about how to register for those of you in the area.

For more information about the workshop and to register visit my website. Or contact me by email or phone.

I’m ready to push some boundaries with you and get that intuitive art voice talking!!

Mithenness

Have you discovered The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig yet? It’s a marvelously readable “dictionary” for word-lovers, described as “a compendium of new words for emotions, its mission to shine a light on the fundamental strangeness of being a human being – all the aches, demons, vibes, joys, and urges that are humming in the background of everyday life”. I thought I might make use of it in my Conversations with the Muse, for obvious reasons.

I never like to get all heavy at the beginning of art making, preferring the looser, playful, wait-and-see-what-happens approach. So first I did my painting, cutting up pieces of an old painting and and collaging them on. Then found the word to match.

Mithenness: noun, from Middle English mithen, to be hidden away

The unsettling awareness that the rest of the world happily carries on in your absence, that although things only ever seem to change when you check back in for an update, they’re unwilling to wait for you, and undergo massive shifts while your back is turned – your mother getting older, your old friends becoming different people, your hometown losing some of the hallmarks that made it feel like home. . .

To these examples I would add so many garden examples. Like when you go away on a trip of even three days during the growing season and return to riotous growth that seemed to wait on purpose until you went away. Like when your lettuces bolt before you get a chance to pick them and the bugs sneak into the folds in the cabbage in the middle of the night and make holes. These things, and many more about the people who you let out of your sight for a while, these things are unsettling even though you know it’s silly to feel that way.

So, Mithenness is the word of the day! and somehow just knowing there’s a word for it is better than a relief. It’s a bit of a thrill!

And by the way, don’t try to find it in Websters. You’ll have to get the book.

Wishes for the Genie

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

Rise up

a wave of yearning

for an earth that is whole

one family 

enough for all

no longer the desire to harm

this is my prayer

Rise UP

iridescent inks on gesso textured w/c paper

The genie in the bottle asks what are your wishes three?

Shall it be gold?

Life everlasting?

A life without danger or loss?

O Genie, first answer me this 

Is there enough wealth in this world for us all

To live in plenty and in peace?

Then that shall be my only wish.

 

Ah! If only. . . 

Night Creatures

India ink, gesso, acrylic glaze and acrylic skin, white gel pen, collage

When you toss and turn and horrible 

Thoughts hold a parade in your mind

And sleep runs for the exit

Ask for advise from the night creatures

Say – Why do you like the night hours?

The answer will no doubt involve food.

So stop your fretting.

You like food too, right?

Get up and have a bowl of

Lift your spoon in a toast to

Those who know

The secret to happy thoughts

at night

Hoot! Hoot!

Zephyr

acrylic monotype plus. . . collage, etc. on w/c paper 10 X 11′

Zephyr

Soft gentle breeze blows  

Takes me along

Disorganizes

Blows particles of thoughts 

Dandelion puffs 

In bird territory

 

Zephyr with no mind 

No thought to enact 

But air-borne sky-borne cloud-borne

In a great rush to gather

Assemble and sweep up

Stand up now and see 

Where that spring zephyr has borne you

Don’t be afraid 

Your gentle breeze will explain later

The Fortune

watercolor, India ink, black gesso, collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Garden Lady beckons with sunshine and dark fragrant soil

Lures the mind with visions of baskets overflowing

Prods with reminders that you must PLAN and PLOW and PLANT!

But caution advised!

Consult your fortune cooky first to gain perspective.

     “Keep a level head.”

     “Watch what you say (and think)”

     “Wish upon a star tonight.”

(but watch what you wish tor)

     And:

“You were right the first time!”

                  Caution advised. An excess of over planning can lead to under performing.

Have you been planning your spring vegetable garden? We have. Maybe you’ve got it all figured out. But our first spring here in the northwest we are scrambling to learn what to expect, pouring over books and taking online courses and staring at our garden plot wondering. . .how ambitious should we get? 

Time to consult astrology, the iChing, Tarot cards, Celtic Runes, almanacs, and maybe even fortune cookies? Or just dive in, move the soil around, get the irrigation right, plant and see what grows!