apple blossoms

Early Spring Musings

Sometimes I just want to look at the blossoms and not remember the storms that brought us here. Look at the green and the lacy morning dew and imagine that this world is mine, as is, right now. Not just in process and needing to be weeded. Not because it all will soon enough disappear, torched by summer’s draught. But just because it is right now. . .mine.


acrylic textures (molding pastes), acrylic inks and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

It is apple blossom season here in Sonoma County. You don’t want to blink and miss it! You don’t want to miss the butterflies fluttering through the garden, drinking apple blossom nectar, mating, and laying eggs on the pipevine. Gardening is a great excuse to be outside with hands in the dirt, and art making gravitates always to these spring colors and forms.

In Muse group we were playing with a wide variety of texture making tools and many of the acrylic mediums now on the market, from molding paste and crackle paste to gels with clear flakes and pumice. You could spend a fortune in the art store gathering up the various mediums to get texture. It’s what happens when you put fluid paint over them that excites me.

I’ll be teaching a weekend mixed media workshop June 24 and 25 where we’ll be using textures like these to achieve the light casting sparkle of Patina!  For more information and to register please visit my website.

The Ease of Masa

treesacrylic inks on Masa paper mounted on w/c paper

Crinkled Masa paper makes it ridiculously easy to paint foliage.  These two pieces were quick demos done at  local art stores – Rileystreet Art Supply in Santa Rosa, and last weekend in San Rafael.  If you drag the brush flat way over this damp crinkled Japanese paper you get  marvelous texture, and if you press down with your brush and layer on the colors you see the suggestion of foliage.  Here I’ve used Daler Rowney acrylic inks and Higgins Black India. Come in with a Sumi or other fine pointed brush loaded with black ink and you’ve got the suggestion of tree trunks and branches and brambles and such.

I haven’t done much realistic painting for a while now, but this technique can tend to draw me back into it.


We’re past the apple blossom time now, but that’s what inspired this little painting, begun as a Masa paper demo and finished with some collaging of more Masa pieces on top.  I went for bouncing color shapes around in a more impressionistic way here. There’s something so satisfying about gluing paper pieces.  It’s restful (once you’ve decided where they should g0) and you can do it to most any music. Maybe it has to do with moving the color around until you get it “right” and not having to make the commitment until you glue it down.  I think it helps one develop composition skills. With paint it’s always more of a commitment, or risk.

Somehow we have to stay in that state of mind where it’s OK to mess up or we can’t ever do anything original in our art.  I just heard Eric Maisel speak at Copperfield’s Book store last week. He really hit the nail on the head when he said that we spend our day trying to get things right.  (You know, think of all the things you “accomplish” each day in your life.) But when we do our creative work we must shift gears and give ourselves permission to make glorious messes, which may or may not turn out successfully. He says you actually have to tell yourself “OK, now I’m completely stopping my need to get things right”. Not an easy task, but absolutely necessary.  Strewn in among the messes are some absolute jewels we would not have gotten any other way. After a day of painting or mess making I leave everything out and come in the next day hoping to find those unvarnished jewels.  The more messes I’ve made, the more likely I’ll find one!

If you think you’re up for making some glorious creative “messes” this weekend, there is one space in the Saturday mini-workshop in my studio.  For more information and to register, visit my website. You can also sign up for the one in July, August and/or September. By the way, you’ll also find video demos on my website.