acrylic and collage

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!

Studio Celebration

The best way to attract creative energy to a new art studio is to invite The Muses to come and play! Luckily my sketch buddies were game to join me and even engage in a Muse-full afternoon of meditation, mixed media art play, writing, and sharing the results! The studio is just big enough for four of us to comfortably work together. No lessons needed for this group of artists who dove in with no reluctance that I could see!

We started with fluid acrylics and inks on a wet surface, squirted, brushed, scraped and rollered on with some gesso for more texture.

Daler Rowney acrylic inks, gesso, w/c pencil on 10 X 11″ w/c

Spring has its goblins hidden among the blossoms

Their eyes are on YOU

They float banshee-like on gentle breezes

Fertilizing soil and seeds

Buds with time release nutrients

Blooms with no choice but to burst

Scatter to the ground too soon

Pink and white petal tears stoking passions

Aches of restless hearts

         Goblins know all about fleeting beauty and its price.

And here’s a look at the others’ art!

Muse Jane

Muse Jan

Muse Ineke

Four Muses

Spring has now got a toehold in my studio, simultaneous with the draw of the spring garden through the windows. A sweet battle to engage with!

Thank you Muses!

Looking for a Soft Landing?

I’m getting back to the mixed media expressive play I’ve practiced for the past 15-16 years, my Muse work. Sometimes if feels a bit like I’m Dumbledore, touching a wand to my head and drawing out images I didn’t know were there, and dropping them into the mist of the paper surface where I can begin to have an inkling of how I feel about “things” in my life.

More often what comes out is not “personal” so much as what I feel going on in the world at the time. Small wonder that cutting and pasting and painting of images accesses some preverbal level, and most recently brought me the war in Ukraine.  But the personal image pops in as well. Here it’s the found blueprint of our beloved dining table with the view in Sebastopol! Putting them together as in a dream is an act of conjure. 

layers of inks, fluid acrylics, collage papers on w/c paper 10 X 11″

Looking for a soft landing?

On the way down through danger lands

Flying fragments of previously ordered lives

Upended

Better to stay airborne (if possible)

Search for that dining table with the view

Bundle up that and other memories

To share when the storm dies down

If . . .

Spread arms like wings like blankets over the flames

the floods, the wars, the sorrows.

Bring the comfort of memories

Until the pieces knit together again.

Your world is not made to stay intact forever

So fly high, fly free with eyes open inward where

there is always a place of peace

And no binoculars needed.

Invitation to Hatch

inks and gesso, collage, brown paper, rice papers, on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

laying an egg

a red earth one yet up high

where the view is better

freshly lain and soon to become

the offspring of a week of plunging

back into a well seasoned life

an invitation to do more hatching back

In the north country

where paints wait to be unpacked

birds to be watched

and a new world cracked open

Thank You Muses!

The postscript on the week in California – the piece I painted that day with the Muse Group. And as I harvested these words during our 5-minute free write, I was surprised by the timer going off just as I wrote the words “thank you Muses!” Indeed!

Now the paints are unpacked in the studio; today was a birdwatching day; and the charms of the north country are beguiling me once again. 

Muse Group Reunion

As soon as I got back home to Olympia over a week ago I was able to move into the art studio that I have been waiting for with great anticipation for the good part of a year. I’ll be sharing some pictures of that soon. But I am now finally getting around to sharing the last chapter of my California visit: an in-person reunion with my beloved Muse Group in Sebastopol.

Since I moved away nine months ago, these ladies, dear friends all, have continued to meet and share their passion for creative expression through mixed media art making. When I said I was coming to town for a visit, they rented a space at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts so we could do a Muse lesson like I used to teach before Covid. It was a rare treat for us all, vaxed and boosted and careful as we all are, we shared time and space and summoned the Muse! I shared poetry and we meditated. Then we stood up and put the whole body into expressive mark making on big sheets of paper with sticks and brushes and fingers while listening to music. 

This group no longer needs instruction for these techniques! We moved seamlessly into more painting and collage and then finished with a free write, harvesting words from the images which had come through us.

The day was a great gift to all of us. For me it bestowed blessings on a return to the mixed media Muse work I’d practically abandoned for the past months when my studio was under plastic in the garage. Now I can’t wait to get back to it as I unpack all the inks and acrylics and textures and papers and collage items! And this group will of course continue their rich creative collaboration with each other!

Dream Sofa

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

CREATE your dream sofa

and it’s got to be soft in all the right places, conforming

to the body that needs refuge in a mother’s

acceptance of all the natural

accumulated muscle throbs bone clashes sores weariness

one that naturally listens and accommodates

some evenings giving spine support and others

gobbling up the jutting sharpness of a day’s stress

tenderizing it without comment

without correction

without judgement

it’s time NOW for your dream sofa to hold

you with open arms open palms

soft fingers

Ahhhh!