dip pens

Camouflage

We tend to think of the creatures who eat the vegetation in our gardens as unwelcome intruders. Can you imagine what they must think of us?! Lately I’ve been startling bunnies and deer on a regular basis. One deer family in particular, a mom and two spotted fawns. Their pert heads lift at me with the unuttered challenge of “what the heck do you want?” They pause rather than bolting, unwilling to give up their munching or napping on the soft grass in the shade of the ancestral grove (the back side garden, under the birch trees, where we’ve “installed” the Grandmothers whose ashes we have shepherded since they died less than a decade ago). This deer family knows they are welcome there.

My mother had a very soft spot for creatures like deer, and surely would not mind a all watching the doe jump easily into the fenced-in vegetable garden and help herself to the bean and tomato plants. We can certainly survive without those extra veggies, and the plants of this world are accustomed to being munched on by all manner of creature. 

I did however subject this family to a round of picture taking and exact payment for their “rent” of my garden and its bounty, by including them in my art making.

Daler Rowney inks on w/c paper, 1st layer

Prior to the recent deer sighting, I was actually inspired by the trip to the Japanese Garden and a picture I took of the koi pond.

This image reminded me to play around with the “painting on water shapes” technique I love, as an expressive and highly spontaneous way to achieve nature shapes, especially since I live in an area dominated by trees, trees, trees!

So I started by wetting the paper with lines of water and crosslines connecting them in almost a tangle.

Next step: dropper onto the wet shapes with two different inks, somewhat randomly.

And next: tip the paper and add drops of water into the shapes if necessary, so that the inks mix and move.

Then I dipped a dip pen into the darker ink and added some calligraphy to delineate or suggest tree texture and branches, including dry pen texture.

Lastly I dipped a cotton ball in the inks and dabbed on leaf and bush foliage.

And that’s when the doe found her way in. With a bit more ink she found her place, a native with every right to live here with us and share this fertile ground. She fits right in. I considered adding birds and dragonflies and all manner of other creatures to this Where’s Waldo piece, but decided I’d told the story I wanted to, and time to move on.

Currently I’m reading a book which has had a significant influence on me lately, and I highly recommend it as a great read. . .Martin Marten by Brian Doyle

It’s about a boy coming of age and a marten also coming of age and a million other things to surprise and delight, so that you begin to see the world from the perspective of the non-human creatures, plants, etc which inhabit “our” world while we overlap and inhabit “theirs”.  (As you can see it’s making me more verbose than usual!)

The Flower People

flowerpeeps

acrylic inks applied with brushes and dip pens on crinkled Masa paper, 10 X 11″

Do the flower people come out of their bud homes at night, when they’re sure we’re asleep, to dance and carry on in the moonlight?

What would they have to say, if we knew how to listen?  Would they answer all those questions about the birds and the bees and the caterpillars, like where do they come from and who eats who?

And would they tell us, that if we looked closely, we might notice them dancing in the middle of the day, and maybe even hear them speak some pretty things. . (.and others not so pretty)?

More hallucinations of a bent mind?  Or just another experiment for mixed media fun?  You decide.

The lesson was a new one titled “Mixed Media People”, which I titled first and then had to figure out how to share it with the group.  My intention was that we would allow the human form to emerge from our play with collage and paint.  I took an old colorful “start” from my pile, put tracing paper over it, and started sketching the outlines of the figures, who already seemed to be there in the colorful shapes.  Without editing I transferred the outlines to the painted surface and proceeded to define them with negative painting of shapes and outlining with a dip pen.

It’s probably safer to meet these flower people on the paper than in dreams, don’t you think?