clear contact paper masking

Back to Muse-ing!

Over the weekend I was busy cleaning and organizing my studio for the influx of Monday Muse Group students. It’s been a four month break in Muse Groups, possibly the longest break since I started teaching them nine or ten years ago! I’d forgotten how things get stirred up when I prepare. While dusting and sorting, my brain was suddenly popping with ideas and excitement and that feeling of nervous anticipation.  I know better than to try to get things all planned out. It’s more about clearing the way for the creative energy of a room full of people who are ready to break out and do something new.


One new feature in the studio is a wall dedicated to the experimental pieces which are lesson demos in the group. It’s a thin metal rod attached to the wall with tiny bulldog clips for the art.

The lesson for Monday was to use clear contact paper or artist tape as a masking method and then have fun squirting and splattering and smooshing inks. Then to peal off the contact paper or tape, with paint on it, and apply it as collage. I was dying to use my (unused) eclipse glasses in this piece, which turned out to be for all of you who missed the total solar eclipse or even the partial.


Oh you Luna, you divine representative of the cosmos! You set up such a longing in me that day when you eclipsed the sun and left me out of your totality party. What happened as I watched (on my cell phone) the excitement across the country? Nothing here but overcast skies. We got stiffed! My special glasses remained unused. The sky kept its metallic blue gray color and as the minutes ticked by, my heart sank lower and lower. To be left out so cruelly! A cosmic snub. And so today I cut up my unused, never to be used, eclipse glasses and made up my own totality. Ha!


Here’s another recent example of masking and using the painted tape for collage. This one also follows the eclipse theme, as I found a place for the eclipse stamp I received from a student in the mail.

Cherish the notion


acrylic inks, gesso, clear contact paper on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Cherish the notion that life is a garden, thorns and blooms and all.  Cherish the potentialities; not just the ones that smell good, but the ones that break the skin and bite.

As the earth starts to rot and mold, does it make you sad? Or do you go out and sketch those polka dotted ‘shrooms and light fires and inhale deeply those rain soaked leaves and pungent soils?

I try not to be sad when the creeping dark and cold of autumn arrive.  We have little to complain about here in California where the rains are what we most cherish now.  But we have become so addicted to sunshine. . . So there is a transition to make, and as with all things, art helps me across.

We started out in this Monday Muse Group by cutting out shapes in clear contact paper and sticking them on the white paper as a kind of resist.  When the contact paper was taken off it became collage pieces of a harmonious nature to use in finishing off the piece.

Honor Guard


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

Salutations!  Remember the ancestors!

With a brisk heel click and a salute he plants himself and dedicates his emotions to defense of country and survival.

Yet the images come like ghosts rising up from the battlefield of memory – fallen comrades, ancestors of this foreign place, his own grandfather and grandmother, mothers and babies, even unborn.

He walks the impossible gauntlet to claim courage and compassion as his own, and honor as his birthright.

A day too late for Veterans Day, but never too late for these sentiments, which arose spontaneously from the art – a demo for last Saturday’s class.  We cut shapes from clear contact paper.  Mine suggested human figures.

We placed the cut outs on the paper (using the sticky backing)  to mask shapes.  Next we painted transparent layers of color, adding new shapes each time, and peeling them off at the end.

Sometimes the paint “crawled” under the contact paper and made colorful creepy crawlies.  I glazed first yellow, then gold, then red and finally phthalo blue, green shade. With the last glaze I spritzed the paint with alcohol while it was wet to get the  bubbly effervescents.  When I saw the soldier with the red glasses on a magazine cover I knew I had my focal point and a story would emerge!