Teetering on the Edge of Paradise

Acrylics on gesso textures with sequin collage on 10X11″ watercolor paper

Here am I teetering 

On the edge of paradise

Feet in the sand head in the jungle

Wondering what 

Creatures will be in the greeting party

Will they bring shells and slimy treats

Or stand apart wary

Of me the uncivilized

Of other language, flora and fauna

As I stare open mouthed

Offering for now a mute greeting

We played with gesso textures in Muse Group today. This piece was a part of my demo. I knew better than to resist the urge to go tropical, on the verge of a trip to Mexico. I leave tomorrow for one week. There’s way too much ocean and jungle cycling through this overheated mind of mine right now to think that anything else would emerge in a Muse inspired piece. 

The lesson, Decalcomanie, was one that I cherish for its serendipity of textures – . You slather some gesso onto your paper randomly or in a shape and place another piece of paper on top. Press the sheets together, by hand or with a roller. When you pull them apart you have some kind of texture, often coral-like. The thickness of the gesso determines how pronounced or subtle the texture is. Let it dry and you now have two beginnings to fun acrylic mixed media paintings. Add collage and dry media and you’ll have a hard time stopping. But you’ve got two textured beginnings, so do a second!

This piece started as a kind of sampler for different applications of acrylic texture, so you’ll see some stenciled texture, which I also demonstrated. When the gesso was dry I wet the whole piece and floated fluid acrylic color on, using the tipping of the paper to move and blend the paints and reveal the textures. Voila! a jungle appeared. And what is a jungle after all, but a tumble of textures.

I’ll see when I get there. Back to packing. 

For some other examples of this technique visit these other posts here and here.



Wishes for the Genie

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

Rise up

a wave of yearning

for an earth that is whole

one family 

enough for all

no longer the desire to harm

this is my prayer

Rise UP

iridescent inks on gesso textured w/c paper

The genie in the bottle asks what are your wishes three?

Shall it be gold?

Life everlasting?

A life without danger or loss?

O Genie, first answer me this 

Is there enough wealth in this world for us all

To live in plenty and in peace?

Then that shall be my only wish.


Ah! If only. . . 


Is there anyone out there who isn’t confused about where we’re going with this pandemic? It makes us a bit ditzy, wondering what other people are doing to cope, I mean other than wearing masks in public, taking walks, zooming, and watching whole series’ seasons on Netflix.

Me, I do some deeply satisfying art dawdling in my art studio each day. Sometimes I start by cutting up a doodled painting from another day and seeing where the pieces take me. It feels so right to recycle art at this point in time. This particular one came together when I found the woman, and felt I could relate.


acrylics, black and white gesso, collage, white gel pen

She’s a bit confused. . .aren’t we all?!

Oops! Don’t walk off the edge.

“It” came from China on a wave.

Where is everyone going? We’re still on a Shelter in Place order!

Of course it’s particularly distressing when our medical heros, the scientists we rely on to find the cures, are unable to reassure us. This Covid virus is still eluding the best of them! It seems we still have more questions than answers.

questions gesso textured w/c paper with acrylic inks, gesso and citrasolv collage.

I almost put cations on this piece as well, but decided to leave it open to interpretation. Please fill in any dialogue that comes to mind.


Sometimes the greatest successes in mixed media painting are repurposed “experiments”.

We were doing the gesso texturing method called “decalcomanie” in Muse Group. Slather gesso on the paper, put another paper over it to “pull” the wet texture out to create a rough painting texture when dry. Then paint wetly over it.

shroomsr2 acrylic over gesso texture with collage on 10 X 11″ watercolor paper

A rush of golden energy punctuated with silver whisperings. It’s not time to lie down. This is the ‘shroom dance of spring, the spores rising and settling in a fine mist. It’s time now to wake early and watch the birthing of these golden days.

This painting was not the beginning. It started with various textures painted on two pieces of paper. The first (below) was a class demo/sampler of different acrylic textures, with pumice and sand and molding paste. It got very confused the more I tried to “finish” it.


See what I mean? I liked the mushroom (‘shroom) theme and cut this painting up.

Can you find the mushroom (later modified somewhat) that landed in the first painting when this one (above) was cut to pieces?


Now I have such an abundance of choices to collage into yet another painting in the series.

I also went through my collage file to find other elements that could be added.  Can’t wait to work on this some more. It’s an invitation to “build” another painting with the most interesting materials.

Through the Screen of May


gesso texture, ink, acrylic, screen and brads on w/c paper, 10 X 10″

Through the screen of May fly the striped moths and metallic blue butterflies as crickets make their way into the house unseen.  Phil the cat lies along the pathway, ready to flop, belly up in a sudden frenzy of love seeking.  The poppies and grasses tower over me. I watch my step to avoid smashing a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar in its orange polka dotted frock en route to a resting spot . There, inside its chrysalid, it will liquify and begin to create wings and antennae. All of us creatures are a bit dizzy in this onslaught of May.



finger painting with acrylic, gesso, collage on gesso texture (decalcomanie) on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

I am a puzzle with scattered pieces. On days when I cast my pieces up, I hope they won’t descend too quickly and pray for the weightlessness to last, that liberation of owning no shape, no name, no story.


My fear is that one day my pieces might find their way into some interlocking finished puzzle picture and trap me there where I no longer fit. . .

Some New Image Transfers

darkfoldsofnightdecalcomanie, image transfer, inks and gesson on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

when beauty dwells
in the dark folds of night
Love comes and finds a heart
entangled in tresses
-Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Decalcomanie:  gesso that gets smooshed flat, then makes a pattern a lot like coral.

Image transfer:  two types; the figure of Aphrodite is a dry gel transfer and the Rumi poem is a clear contact paper transfer. Both transfers were added weeks after the initial inks and gesso play underpainting.  I always have a stack of starts ready to add to.  Aphrodite with her long tresses was a lucky find to pair with Rumi’s tresses!

youngmaninks, gesso, clear contact paper transfer, stamping, on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Another fun beginning pulled from the stack and paired with Michaelangelo’s David.  I learned from a student, Ken,in my Muse Group that if you crumple the picture before laying it on the contact paper, you get a distressed look to the transfer – an authentic look for an ancient statue!  This young man is confronting the whirlwind of modern life.  Like my two sons, he’s so ready for it. . .and so not.

Moonbeam Concerto

moonrisewalnut ink antiquing spray, inks, gesso texture, collage on w/c paper

It is a certain that the moon will rise, bringing with it the dark recesses and somber doings of night.  Each window curtain will absorb the moon glow and breathe out a new movement; a duet, a regal march, a spritely polka.  But most of us will never hear the music of moon time.

You ask “Are you asleep? Or are you willing to keep watch with me some night, to gaze up at the moon and listen, to wear your feather hat band and billowy skirt,  but keep your feet bare.  Run out to the dew laden grasses, cast down your sparkling shawl and lie gazing up at heaven.  You will hear the moonbeam concert and never be the same.”

The Muse Groups’ lesson this weekend was “decalcomanie”, the texturing technique using thick gesso pressed between two paper surfaces, then pulled apart to create ridges which resemble patterns of coral or sometimes bird wings!  Here you see it used in collage pieces cut from a larger piece, along with some rubber stamp patterns, lace, feathers, ink drawing and walnut ink spray in two shades.

We also conjured up the Dangerous Old Woman archetype, borrowed from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ wonderful audio book of the same name. The D. O.W. is the one who protects that spark of goodness in us.  Danger is meant here in its old form meaning “you stand in my danger” or under my protection.  She is the champion of our eccentricity because it points to the gifts of originality we have to offer.  It’s not particularly comfortable to be with her though, because she is wild, unpredictable, and full of paradox.  Her teaching is that “normalcy is the enemy of giftedness” and we must be willing to horrify the few in order to inspire the many.  A tall order, but what else can we do on this path of art?