collage

World on the Move!

acrylic inks and paint, collaged textured paper on 10 X 11″ w/c paper

World on the move

Mass Migration

In peaceful flight or famine and plight

Through nourishing rainfall or missiles in skyfall

Emigration, Resettlement

Expulsion, Exodus, Ejection

Dispossession, Displacement, Dispersion

Evacuation, Banishment 

                    Extinction. . .

Watch out! This is what can happen when you cut up an old painting that’s going nowhere. It starts to find kinship with this moment in history and acquires a mind of its own. Or so it seems.

Process: I liked the textures and colors of the “old painting” and started cutting out some bird shapes and then one turned into a building and another a kind of avian-human that requested a colorful hat. 

The first underpainting was this one, and a storm developed. Not surprising, since we are in the dark stormy part of the year when you’re liable to freeze or blown, or get very wet if you go outside.

It was the scene I needed for the creatures I’d cut out. Some were simply pieces left on the table in the jumble of cuttings. They became a kind of graveyard or decomposing of organic matter, benevolent in itself, but slightly disturbing in context.

I have lived with these pieces for part of a week and am ready to put them to rest now. But you never know what might come next?!

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Mithenness

Have you discovered The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig yet? It’s a marvelously readable “dictionary” for word-lovers, described as “a compendium of new words for emotions, its mission to shine a light on the fundamental strangeness of being a human being – all the aches, demons, vibes, joys, and urges that are humming in the background of everyday life”. I thought I might make use of it in my Conversations with the Muse, for obvious reasons.

I never like to get all heavy at the beginning of art making, preferring the looser, playful, wait-and-see-what-happens approach. So first I did my painting, cutting up pieces of an old painting and and collaging them on. Then found the word to match.

Mithenness: noun, from Middle English mithen, to be hidden away

The unsettling awareness that the rest of the world happily carries on in your absence, that although things only ever seem to change when you check back in for an update, they’re unwilling to wait for you, and undergo massive shifts while your back is turned – your mother getting older, your old friends becoming different people, your hometown losing some of the hallmarks that made it feel like home. . .

To these examples I would add so many garden examples. Like when you go away on a trip of even three days during the growing season and return to riotous growth that seemed to wait on purpose until you went away. Like when your lettuces bolt before you get a chance to pick them and the bugs sneak into the folds in the cabbage in the middle of the night and make holes. These things, and many more about the people who you let out of your sight for a while, these things are unsettling even though you know it’s silly to feel that way.

So, Mithenness is the word of the day! and somehow just knowing there’s a word for it is better than a relief. It’s a bit of a thrill!

And by the way, don’t try to find it in Websters. You’ll have to get the book.

Zephyr

acrylic monotype plus. . . collage, etc. on w/c paper 10 X 11′

Zephyr

Soft gentle breeze blows  

Takes me along

Disorganizes

Blows particles of thoughts 

Dandelion puffs 

In bird territory

 

Zephyr with no mind 

No thought to enact 

But air-borne sky-borne cloud-borne

In a great rush to gather

Assemble and sweep up

Stand up now and see 

Where that spring zephyr has borne you

Don’t be afraid 

Your gentle breeze will explain later

Pieces of Me

One of the things I love about collage is the cutting up of papers. You get a lot of interesting pieces. And then you sit down and try to figure out how they can all fit together in a pleasing, or at least uniquely interesting way. Unlike real life, that is, where the pieces don’t always fit together or get lost in the process. With collage you can say “OK, I’m finished with this now.” and then wonder what it means. There’s never just one answer, so you pick one!

inks, acrylics, foil and paper collage

When I look at this earth

I see pieces of me

When I look at myself

I see pieces of earth

I’ve been sticking my hands in the dirt every time I go outside lately, pulling weeds mostly, but also finding buds and bugs to examine closely. I believe the creatures in my garden, down to the microscopic ones are my relations, otherwise why would I seek the feel of soil on my hands, and feel my heart slow down and breath deepen?

The nature sanctuary outside my dining room window has been evolving. I got dizzy watching the squirrel swing on the suet feeder up side down while eating, and I set up a proper picnic table for squirrels and bunnies, with corn and sunflower seeds. Now I can have lunch with them sometimes. Their manners are not always so fine, with the exception of this cottontail.

Looking for a Soft Landing?

I’m getting back to the mixed media expressive play I’ve practiced for the past 15-16 years, my Muse work. Sometimes if feels a bit like I’m Dumbledore, touching a wand to my head and drawing out images I didn’t know were there, and dropping them into the mist of the paper surface where I can begin to have an inkling of how I feel about “things” in my life.

More often what comes out is not “personal” so much as what I feel going on in the world at the time. Small wonder that cutting and pasting and painting of images accesses some preverbal level, and most recently brought me the war in Ukraine.  But the personal image pops in as well. Here it’s the found blueprint of our beloved dining table with the view in Sebastopol! Putting them together as in a dream is an act of conjure. 

layers of inks, fluid acrylics, collage papers on w/c paper 10 X 11″

Looking for a soft landing?

On the way down through danger lands

Flying fragments of previously ordered lives

Upended

Better to stay airborne (if possible)

Search for that dining table with the view

Bundle up that and other memories

To share when the storm dies down

If . . .

Spread arms like wings like blankets over the flames

the floods, the wars, the sorrows.

Bring the comfort of memories

Until the pieces knit together again.

Your world is not made to stay intact forever

So fly high, fly free with eyes open inward where

there is always a place of peace

And no binoculars needed.

Invitation to Hatch

inks and gesso, collage, brown paper, rice papers, on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

laying an egg

a red earth one yet up high

where the view is better

freshly lain and soon to become

the offspring of a week of plunging

back into a well seasoned life

an invitation to do more hatching back

In the north country

where paints wait to be unpacked

birds to be watched

and a new world cracked open

Thank You Muses!

The postscript on the week in California – the piece I painted that day with the Muse Group. And as I harvested these words during our 5-minute free write, I was surprised by the timer going off just as I wrote the words “thank you Muses!” Indeed!

Now the paints are unpacked in the studio; today was a birdwatching day; and the charms of the north country are beguiling me once again. 

Bunny bunny

In my “old home” I used to spend a great deal of my time in my studio, a modest detached building next to the house surrounded by garden. The deal about moving was that the studio would hopefully have some degree of separation from the house, the washer/dryer and every other manner of house chore interruption. In the “new home”, that separation will be a wall built inside the garage. . .eventually. Apparently there’s a shortage of contractors for that kind of work here.

So I packed up my “old studio” with that delay in mind, and built a sort of wall partition of those boxes here. Then I pulled out just the supplies for mixed media play, otherwise sometimes known as my Conversations With the Muse.

studio in the garage

As you can see there are windows to let in light and even the fluorescents for nighttime and overcast days, and the water is a quick walk across the garage. Who needs more that this?! A fan sometimes, but otherwise I’m good.

torn watercolor painting, cotton balls and bunny painting!

The start here was to tear up an old painting, always a great way to start when you have nothing in mind. A bunny kept hopping through my mind, so I knew to put bunnies in. They wanted to hide, but you know they’re not very good at it. The bunnies in my yard are different shades of brown and buff and easily seen on the green grass which they love to munch. In the bunny world you learn to freeze if a possible predator, like one of those towering humans, gets close. Bunny lore has it that you cannot be seen if you stay still enough.  Haha! But when the big bumbling human reaches for the cell phone to get that coveted picture, the next thing the human sees is the white of the cottontail and startled, drops the phone! So I had to paint some bunnies since I couldn’t get a good enough picture to share with you here! Maybe there’s a hidden teaching here, but I didn’t find it. The bunnies are enough.

It felt good to tear paper and paste and draw and all that. I miss my Muse Group but I can sit at my table among the boxes in the garage and be happy to be at play again. Time to do another now!

The Narrator

Posing on her stage

In front of the curtain

Profile to audience, she is

Actress? Director?

Narrator, yes,

Of changing times

She waits

Hoping the seas will give up their secrets

Share a rosier picture of planetary change

If she could shapeshift

She might discover things

Why the solitary gull flies against the flock

For now though

She remains

Trapped on a stage

Helpless

Awestruck

Most of the mixed media paints and tools are packed away now, not to be opened until some time after “the move”. (The big truck comes next Tuesday and doesn’t arrive at our new home until the 21st.) But I’ve reserved lots of pieces of old paintings/demos/goofs to be mined for these new Muse works.

Years ago I painted moody ocean scenes in watercolor, then switched to fluid acrylics, throwing out the “rules” I’d learned. This one is a combination of both. I’ve come to rely on the words that come as I work on the “construction” of these works, which come together seemingly randomly. It’s all very personal of course, but at this stage of life, there’s nothing to hide. Wouldn’t you agree? Except for the social security number of course. Haha!

Caw Caw!

A crow arrived in my meditation, a big black bird body, up close and personal with his back to me – demanding attention like all his cohorts in the skies, on branches and wires, beak open and loudly proclaiming, or was it complaining? I wondered if I could ask for a smattering of blessings from the crow proclaimer, blessings for us earthbound mortals. 

So I did some art and asked.

collaged, hand painted papers

(And Crow spoke)

“Look to each other

be the sentinel at your friend’s gate

stand watch over that which is most precious

to yourself and also to others

listen to others’ voices

and speak your own clearly

base your claim to nobility

on your readiness to share

your own inner wealth.”

Reflection in the mirror

Each day lately I learn more about what it means to have black skin in this world. It seems more important than ever to have eyes and ears open, and to take an honest look at what is reflected back in the mirror.

As I was finishing this piece I ran across a cache of small mirrors I had bought many years ago when teaching a workshop where we sketched parts of ourself seen in the mirror. I realized that I needed to put myself into the picture, but also to invite us all in to see ourselves reflected back in the truth of the images.

The trick was to get my reflection as I was taking the picture with my cell phone! It took a good ten minutes of gyrations to pull it off. Finally I was able to at least get a corner of me.

manyvoices

Credit here to my husband Bob who is always wowing me with his printmaking. I was in his studio lately, and was looking with such greedy eyes at his gelli prints, that he let me walk away with some unfinished ones, with his blessing to do with them what I wished. Lucky lady! The rest here is collage, stick dipped in inks and the mirror.