art journal books

A Muse Lesson on Canvas

We always paint on watercolor paper in Muse Group, but every once in a while I get out my big role of canvas and cut pieces for everyone. I like to take my (loose) canvas paintings and use them as book cloth to make covers for the Muse portfolio/journal books (bound loose leaf with rings).

movingAcrylic on gessoed canvas fabric with canvas collage, 12.5X13.5″

When a figure emerged, rushing along like she was on fire! I recognized myself, dashing through my days in constant pursuit of accomplishing something or other. I must have been thinking of gardening and the blooming of azaleas. . . And I had just read a poem by Pablo Neruda. Here’s an excerpt which starts with the above quote:

Keeping Quiet (excerpt)

If we were not so simple-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.

-Pablo Neruda


Gesso and black ink squirted on canvas, rolled over with brayer and scraped off with a color shaper.

How easy it is to create fun textures with some fluid acrylics and two tools. . .in less than five minutes! I was thinking I could cut or tear it up for collage, but will probably make it the back cover of a book!


Two of my mixed media portfolio books, opened to show the canvas covers.

The artwork, mostly done in Muse Groups gets added to the easy ring binding. I have three boxes of these books now, going back to 2005! Before that I just threw my art in flat file drawers where it was forgotten, or in the bin. This has been such a satisfying way to document not only the lessons I learn and teach, but contemplations and writings which are on the backs of the each piece of art (and archived here in the blog!)

(To be continued with more recent lessons and opportunities to join.)


I want to live here.


Inks and gesso and collage on w/c paper 10 X 11″

I want to live here. . .somewhere between the mountain and the sky, the ground and the inside of trees, under green tassels and tree skirts, inside of drawings of buildings that may never be, but ought to.  In this land of maybe and on the terrain of if’s, I can have my own way;  point my feet in the air, stick my nose in the ground, sniff the wild droppings of plants and creatures, and sip the dew off tree bark, while the rest of the neighborhood sleeps.

We played with inks and gesso in the Saturday workshop, thin and thick squirted on and moved around on the paper with various tools and our fingers.  We did two of the same color scheme and cut up one of the paintings for collage onto the other.  It’s such a fun and freeing way to design the page.

My son Andrew is an architecture student.  When he’s home on vacation he litters his desk with print outs of designs.  If they get left behind, I add them to my collage pile. There’s something so appealing about the lines and shapes, simple in their black on white-ness, and yet so complex.  While I try to visualize actual people in them, I make myself a Lilliputian and crawl inside.

It occurred to me that I have many new subscribers who are possibly wondering what I do with these strange little paintings. Nine years ago I started this practice of combining meditation, mixed media painting and writing, and I have never been able to (or wanted to) stop!

For the past few years I’ve been doing it with groups of students who come to explore mixed media techniques and see where their imaginations can take them.  During this entire time I’ve blogged about almost all the pieces I’ve done, so now there is an online inventory of them. All the different topics/techniques can be easily accessed by typing words of interest into the search bar on the right.  Thank you WordPress!

Sometimes I sell the art pieces and make a copy to keep for myself, so let me know if you’re interested.  But normally, after I post on the blog, I print out the text and glue it on the back of the art and put it in a book.  I have boxes of these now. They are my creative experiments, deeply healing and energizing for my art life (meaning my life).


And while I’m on it, you may not know that I have a book about this process called “Conversations with the Muse: The Art Journal As Inner Guide” and a downloadable course, as well as ongoing Artful Muse workshops.

I’m just staring at my computer right now, but it’s more fun than ever, after all these years, to know you’re out there bearing witness and having your own art-ventures!