acrylic and collage

Black and White and Mazes

Getting back to black and white occasionally is like clearing the palette from rich (color) food so that one can taste with clarity again. Ha! Well that sounds good anyway. We did a lesson this week in Muse Group of playing with black and white collaged patterns.

blkwhitecamouflageacrylic, collage, black gesso on 10 X 11″ w/c paper

There are ways to deal with mazes and blind alleys. Make it a game and jump in. Have some paint ball fun; play leap frog and roll down a grassy hill. Stir up some random cyclonic energy. Run round in a circle till you collapse, dizzy and spent and laughing. Do you want your life to play like a comedy or a tragedy?

This was a kind of puzzle I wanted to play with, combining an image of a maze or labyrinth (few of us knows the difference) with a dancing figure, engaging in a kind of hide and seek with aspects of camouflage. The discovery was how amazing these bright colors look on the black and white patterning. Something a bit Halloweeny about it, wouldn’t you say?


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!

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.40.16 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 4.57.24 PM

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:


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. 


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.


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.


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


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.


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


. . .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.


Inside Out

We did the Mixed Media People lesson today in Muse Group. I took an acrylic painting done in layers with paint scraped back to other layers and added some collage and word.


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

It doesn’t matter where you start. There will be someone there with you, waiting for the next bus, or chapter, or age.  There will be company even when your eyes close. They will be there on the inner screen.  Your parents or friends, even the strangers are not really strange but just disconnected, transparent. You try to read the signs, but they’re in another language, so you hang out and wait with them.

Sometimes it gets confused for just a moment. The inside and the outside. The dream and the reality. That’s the border where the creative impulse plays. There’s always a bit of strange to it, else you just get more of the ho hum.

There’s more to sight than eyes

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.



acrylic, gesso, magazine and cut phone book collage on w/c paper, 10 x 11″

Steps slippery with moss and the green slime accumulation of many days rain. . .

balance with unwieldy load shifting over the falls

Dare I let go?

Will I fall to the patchwork of earth below

or know the liberty of a bird in flight?

The lesson in last Saturday’s workshop was to take pictorial collage, arrange it whole or in pieces on the paper, and then integrate it by painting out, or even over, the pieces to get a unified result.

I started with a National Geographic picture of a native man carrying a heavy load across a narrow rope bridge over a river far below. I liked the edginess of it, but didn’t want to keep the figure or background, so I cut them out, leaving a left and right hand piece of the bridge structure.

I drew a more neutral figure with my black ink dropper onto the white paper between. Using a stencil that mimicked the rope lattice, I sponged in some darks in the bottom left corner, not realizing that later it would look like an aerial topography. The load on the figure’s back became a kind of bird nest as I arranged “phone book hair”.  Very little of this piece was my original intention, but a step-by-step exploration of material and form.

In the next Saturday Afternoon Workshop April 16 we’ll be adding dimension with mesh textures: painted screen, cheesecloth and fabric netting. There’s still space in that workshop. To join us, visit my website for registration info.

Valentine Troll


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

My very own Valentine troll came to me with heart in hand and face hidden. I asked him who he was, if he was the untidy part of me I try to keep locked in the closet. [He nodded] And I saw that maybe I could love that part too!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you in your entirety!