graphite powder, acrylic inks and gesso, collage on w/c paper

save me from the little tribes
the us and them tribes
that say who can’t marry who
that make you take up a gun to defend them

give me those sisters and brothers
in the bigger family
to link arms with
to cluck and strut together

to head off somewhere
not knowing precisely where
trusting that we’ll find the way
. . .together

the kind of tribe we need
with mixed up colors and open doors.

We did a brand new lesson in Tuesday Muse Group yesterday, playing with graphite powder, mixing it up with acrylics and collage.  Not like stirring it into a soup, but more like making a cake with it and then icing the cake with acrylics.

Honestly, the spring garden has been so intoxicating lately that we had to start out by visiting the Pipe Vine Swallowtail caterpillars under the apple tree where they’re fattening themselves up quite nicely on the leaves.  And then the students took the graphite powder and paper out to sit in the garden and translate all that dizzying activity of buds and butterflies and buzzing to the paper.

I didn’t actually do this piece outside, but got to use this image of the three farm women with hens under their arms, which I have been saving. . .I am in a mother’s group and this is exactly how it feels being with the mothers, talking about our chickens, both the fowls and the young’uns who have been heading off to college.  Shoulder to shoulder we’ve shared years of kids’ school, college apps, graduations, health crises, family deaths, and so much more. . .this is the kind of tribe I can sign up for.  I was thinking of all the nations’ flags with different colored stars and wanting them all on my flag.

Dress of the Day

acrylic, hand made stamps, ink, and collage on w/c paper

the girls hop on the line
show off-y like spring
like those orange polka dotted caterpillars  
munching the pipevine
eating big holes in the leaves
til there’s nothing left
but their big juicy selves

back to the girls on the line
hanging out for the fresh air
dancing on the breeze
headless, carefree
their only personality
the dress of the day

Ah yes, carefree.  How to be carefree at my age, or any age for that matter.  I certainly wouldn’t sign up to trade with a teenager. . .6 year old maybe, but then I’d have to do the whole growing up thing all over again. . .no thanks.  Better to cultivate a carefree state of mind.

I’m headed to Vancouver, B.C. tomorrow to visit my son Ben, who is graduating from college.  Now 21 is a pretty great age.  I think I’ll try it on for size, at least for a week of fun in the city and then out to the islands.  He says if the rain stops for a bit we’ll go kayaking, and you can eat that wonderful fresh fish even if it’s raining, so we’re cool.

Jujubird, King of the Color Wheel

acrylic on w/c paper, 10 X 11″, color lesson demo

a juju bird is not concerned with questions about the meaning of life

he has no checkbooks to balance, no lists to remember, no vitamins to take

no calls to make, except for the one that ricochets through the canopy

announcing his love for one dame of slightly less colorful, yet equally regal attire 

he will do his swoop and strut dance

she will remain unimpressed

and I  will watch awestruck in my worn blue jeans and sneakers.

Last Tuesday’s Muse Group was the much anticipated color lesson. So I pulled out my Robert Burridge color wheel and shared enough simple color theory to launch us on our art journal pieces for the afternoon.  Dominant color (yellow green), focal point color (purple), spice colors (red and blue).  A lot of this and a little bit of those, and some neutrals mixed with white and there you go – what could be easier?!  I think everyone felt more on top of the whole color game by sticking to these principles- a great relief when you’ve been painting yourself repeatedly into those boring, tight corners. . .

It was supposed to be abstract, but wouldn’t you know it – a bird appeared.  They follow me everywhere.  I looked up Jujubird to see if it exists. Juju actually means bird in Hindi, so I guess it’s a bit redundant – bird bird.  In a state in India there’s a bird locally known as Jujurana, the king of birds (juju=bird, rana=king)!

Juju bird, king of the color wheel!

Four Hands, Four Elements, Parks and Poetry

“Four Elements”, acrylic, inks, gesso on canvas, 36 X 36″, in the Four Hands Painting show

by Susan Cornelis and Suzanne Edminster

Fire, earth, air and water twine in an alchemical world.


The opening reception on Saturday of the Four Hands Painting collaboration at the Phantom IV gallery was a great success with lots of visitors and some red dots too.  Thanks to all of you who came, and if you haven’t seen the show yet, it will be open through the end of March, Thursday-Sunday 12-6pm, Phantom IV Gallery, 9077 Windsor Rd., Windsor Town Green, CA  You will also enjoy seeing the paintings of Hanya Popova Parker and Laura Payne Carr.

And you are also invited to a special event this Thursday evening at the gallery,


In celebration of the California State Parks threatened with closure, Katherine Hastings assembled the work of fourteen poets in What Redwoods Know—Poems From California State Parks. NINE of these poets will read from this beautiful, hand-printed chapbook this Thursday, 7 pm., March 15, 2012 at Phantom IV Gallery, 9077 Windsor Rd., Windsor, CA.

All proceeds from book sales will go to the California State Parks Foundation.

Poets reading are: David Beckman, Janine Canan, Ed Coletti, Jodi Hottel, Iris Jamahl-Dunkle, Gail Larrick, Phyllis Meshulam, Hanna Maggiora and Katherine Hastings.

Four Hands Painting: A Collaboration by guest artists Susan Cornelis and Suzanne Edminster lights the gallery with color, movement and passion. The paintings of Phantom IV artists, Laura Paine Carr and Hanya Popova Parker, are also currently on exhibit. Phantom IV is honored to host this remarkable evening.

Stretching Into Dawn with the Animus

acrylic and “reclaimed paintings” collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

an auspicious beginning to this day saturated with dawn’s colors

rising up from unfurled petals he picks up his palette and pronounces his intention –

to paint the hours away, to move his brushes to the rhythm of breezes and bird song, to coat his canvas with morning fog and midday warmth, floating on the dappled shade, baking in the sun’s rays.

he stretches wide, breathes belly deep, throws arms out wide and begins. . .

My birthday is today and last night I had a visit from my Animus, that representative of the creative unconscious parts(in a woman) according to Carl Jung.  At any rate a guy showed up, a kind of perfect male counterpart to me.  Probably a little shove from the unconscious to give it a bit more attention.

This piece was one from a Muse Group lesson a week ago in reclaiming old paintings, and as I sat down to post it here today the connection with the dream became clear!  A birthday present from the unconscious, how divine!

Travel By Collage

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

On the white beach, palm fronds waving, I wiggle my toes in the fine warm sand and know I am here.  Or am I in a dream from which i may awake and realize I’m lost, stranded, with nothing but relentless blue skies each day.  How many times would I paint these these palms until I could not any more?  How many baskets and skirts would I weave from the fronds and grasses before I started to long for machine made clothing.  How many months could I live in a grass hut, eating shell fish and fruit before I longed for art museums and restaurants with big city fare.  Is this really the paradise I long for?

Recently I received an “invitation” by mail from National Geographic Expeditions for a 3 week trip to India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives by private jet.  A bargain really, at $60,000 per person double occupancy plus your air fare to London.  Do you get things like this in the mail, brochures which fuel the fire of longing to travel to exotic places?

Well, not being at a point in my life when I can do such trips even if I could afford them, I have discovered a (somewhat) satisfying way to enjoy the prospects of travel by collage.  That’s not a typo for college.  I mean collage, glueing a picture onto the page as if it were a photo taken on your recent trip There, and then painting out from the picture.  Travel by collage.  This one just saved me $60,000, not to mention all the shots and malaria pills, flight arrangements, wardrobe shopping, etc I would need to go there.  Not a bad deal I must say.

Centaur, a Four Hands Painting

“Centaur”, acrylic on canvas 24″ X 24″

a Four Hands painting by Susan Cornelis and Suzanne Edminster

Four hands as in two sets of two attached to two different painters.  I keep having the image of a dancing Shiva with four arms balancing on one foot. It is a kind of balancing act to create a painting with another artist, whose center of gravity is in a different place.  A bit like bungie jumping (which I’ve never tried) it is also a kind of thrill since you’re less in control of the landing.

In the painting “Centaur” here, after the initial abstract beginning by one of us, we both thought we saw a horse shape emerging, a familiar theme to both of us, so not surprising.  A shape shifter, a visitor from Suzanne’s world of cave art and myth and mine of wild horse Muse-ings.  We both welcomed his appearance.

This is one of the paintings in the show open now at Phantom IV Gallery in Windsor, CA. Scroll down here for more information about the show and the opening this Saturday.

Paint the Word Obsession

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

In Saturday’s workshop we incorporated words into our painted and collages art pieces by starting with them, ending with them and inserting them into various layers.

In this demo I asked for a word and was given “obsession” so I wrote it into the wet paint beginning with a watercolor crayon (it got painted over, but the meaning persisted).

Can you tell what layer came next? and next?  What we get with all these layers of paint and collage and word is packed with meaning.  It’s a palimpsest, like the early manuscripts which were covered over so that successive entries could be made, it contains a history of the layers of creation. What do you think this suggests about the nature of obsession?

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Acrylic, collage, clear contact paper image transfer on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

An assortment of Susans with the evil mastermind – call her Ego Mistress – at the center, strict head mistress of the boarding school. . .But something tells me she’s met her match in this collection of wise ass girls.

Q: “Mirror, mirror on the wall.  Who is the fairest of them all?”

A: “None of the above.  She’s just off stage waiting for her call.”

As I’ve been saying, one must approach self portraiture with a sense of humor, and it helps to use Photo booth as well.  The Tuesday Muse group learned an image transfer technique last week and this was the demo.  Using a toner/laser printed image, place it face down on the sticky side of clear contact paper.  Burnish.  Soak it in water for a couple minutes and gently rub the paper pulp off.  Voila! A transparent image to glue onto your painted surface.

Now, how to deal with the evil Ego Mistress? Gang up on her with a bunch of other alter ego identities, the more the merrier.  I like to collect them and art is a great way to do that.

Declaration of Collaboration

“Trojan Horse”, acrylic on canvas, 24″ X 24″a painting in the Four Hands Painting Collaboration

by Susan Cornelis and Suzanne Edminster

What do you do when you finish a painting?  You sign it of course.  And what do you do when you finish a four-hands painting like the one above?  You co-sign it.  Two signatures, both beginning with S. One painting with two artistic energies coming together, colliding, ricocheting off each other, landing on common themes, and finally on a name.  “Trojan Horse”.  This is one of a whole collection of new collaborative paintings which will be shown starting March 1st at the Phantom IV Gallery in Windsor.

Last night Suzanne and I signed all the new paintings, passing the pen back and forth between us.  It felt like a Declaration of Collaboration, a not so solemn ritual of transition in preparation for releasing our collaboration into the public sphere.

Please put March 10 on your calendar to join us at the opening of the show, 4:30-7:30pm at 9077 Windsor Rd. at the Windsor Town Green in CA. and visit the other galleries which will be open for the 2nd Sat. Art Walk.  To see more of our paintings visit Suzanne’s blog.