inks and gesso

A Bifurcated Goddess of Spring

Spring is the time of year when I’m most content with just sitting and staring dumbly at nature’s exuberances. My Piscean March birthday makes me particularly vulnerable to wanting to weep at the beauty of it all.

But this year is particularly poignant because we are about to leave this gorgeous home of ours for the north country. The house sale is pending, and I’m off next week to find our next home in the south Puget Sound area of Washington.

For weeks now I’ve been living in two worlds in my imagination. Were I a more experienced shaman, perhaps I would move more gracefully between the imaginal realms without the upheaval of loss and dislocation alternating with expectation and exhilaration. But maybe not. 

rorschach with ink and gesso, collage and acrylics on w/c paper

Two sides of the same coin

Doppelgangers

Me in two places

North and South

East and West

Sun and Rain

or

A split personality

A here today there tomorrow

A bifurcated goddess of Spring

Dwelling in two regions at once

Traveling the sensory tapestry

Of the be here/there now

A shaman riding the dragon’s tail

Landing softly in two places to

Be ready

        for both

Gaze

      Touch

             Listen

                   Sniff and

Taste!

Illustrated Adventure?

People keep asking if I’m excited about moving. And if I shrug they might add, but you’re in for an adventure. But honestly, adventure of this sort often looks more enticing from the outside. And we all have some element of restlessness, especially after a year of pandemic shut downs. So I get it. Sure, I guess I’m excited

For most of us adventure is sweetest when you’ve planned it out first, like an exotic vacation, and maybe a good friend told you about how fabulous it was, and how safe, and you’ve poured over pictures to prepare yourself.

Anticipation of adventure applies only theoretically to a move. Nevertheless I am trying, and this piece today bears witness to that. I want something to look back on once the boxes are packed and unpacked on the other side in the mythical new home. Then there will be stories to tell and hopefully the audience to hear.

For now I steal moments away from the near constant cleaning and clearing to paint and paste the adventure, which I’ve not yet fully embraced!

inks and gesso rorschach with deconstructed book, etc. collage

Suspended in my own frenzy

an echo of springtime

riot of

bird-buzz

bud-burst

bee-bloom

as Easter bunny makes her way through

oxalis and I at the ready

to hop with her 

Rorschach

I hadn’t done a rorschach blot painting in a long time. You know, the proverbial inkblot that psychologists have used to diagnose patients by listening to their answers about what they see in the inkblot. Rorschachs are a great way to project your imagination onto the screen of your paper. In more abstract, expressive painting sometimes it’s hard to get started. Not so, when you start with rorschach play. I always find my mind kicking into high gear with hallucinations, ideas, stories, and occasional wisdom. Here’s the latest.

India ink, acrylic, screen and paper collage on w/c paper

They were doing a little dance, like children do, or maybe there were playing hopscotch. I don’t know. And as the sidewalk heaved up between them, a golden light escaped from below. A veil had lifted from their eyes, and they gazed down bewildered, and maybe a bit bewitched, but in a good way.

Meanwhile wise ones, taking their measure of the children, sent their emissaries, in readiness to draw the veil again if some mischief arose.

But the two tiny characters became fearful. Are we allowed? they asked. And there was at first no answer.

Then they heard it, a crackle and a hiss, a snap and a pop. That was it! They ran away shrieking, leaving the pots of treasure untouched.

And so it is for us all, that we fear those treasures which wait for us to find them, meanwhile searching in all the wrong places.

Would you like to try a rorschach of your own? I recorded a three minute demo today to show you how.

To watch the demo click here.

This Garden’s Wild!

Every day I pull a few weeds in the garden. Sometimes for as long as an hour, but rarely beyond that. The spring garden is for dreaming and not just laboring. Painting is sometimes for dreaming too, especially now when we need a break from the monotony of sheltering at home.

When I want to do a seasonal painting that isn’t a sketch or landscape “painting”  of some scene before me, I start with textures, like acrylic mediums that have dried on the paper. Then I start squirting inks and spritzing them and watch what happens. If I use greens and pinks, I know I’ll get something suggesting the spring garden, and if I use iridescent inks. . .well, here’s what can happen.

gardenoffairies

gesso and mica flake textured w/c paper with inks and chicken feathers (fluff)

This garden’s a bit wild

the way I like it.

One might run into Oberon

King of the fairies

or his wife Tatiana

I imagine she’ll be wearing a gauzy gown

with a dandelion fluff border

and her hair spun with spider thread

I’ll ride a lizard’s back into the undergrowth

where insects and birds lay their eggs.

or hop on a swallowtail butterfly

for the ride of my life!

When the wind sneezes

on that big pink puff,

I’ll hitch a ride on a seedpod

and ride it to the fairy kingdom.

 

Earth on Tilt

OK, so the earth is seriously on tilt. Wouldn’t you agree? I’m finding this to be a particularly fruitful time for contemplation, and I don’t just mean the specifics of how we will get life back to “normal”, whatever that was. Sometimes that means plunging in for a peak at the darkness. But then I recommend taking a piece of paper and your paints with you as a companion.

earthontilt

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

It’s all flowing downstream, but at some point starts to back up.

The Doctors get called in to treat the damage.

The epidemiologists sound the alarm. Chaos ensues.

What the global warming crisis has not yet demanded,

This microscopic virus now  accomplishes, bringing everything. . .to a . . . halt.

Sit up and pay attention, It declares.

The earth’s axis is on tilt and you’re sliding off.

You may have a chance, if you sit still in your chair at home, for months.

Pull in your feet. The jagged teeth of this monster threaten.

And you elders beware!

Count your days.

Breathe deep.

If you can.

I read this to some Muse friends and they gasped a bit and were silent. If that is your reaction, I recommend one of those comedy clips you find on Facebook or Youtube to clear the palate.

I find that one of the most effective ways to navigate each day is to open the mind and heart to the tragedies playing out, and then to clear the palate with humor and a massive serving of natural wonder. (that and good food and music and. . .fill in the blanks)

Inks and Gesso: Another Free Lesson

Ready to try another free Muse Group lesson?! I’ve taught this one over and over for at least 12 years now. It’s a foolproof way to get excited about making art and to activate creative fancy. You’ll need watercolor paper, inks (preferably with droppers), gesso, and optional: scrapers, rollers, and rubber stamps.

inks_gesso

Click here to watch the video demo. But don’t stop there. Give it a try!

 

Meditation Garden and Art at TLR

Once a week for the past month I’ve been entering through the gate at The Living Room (TLR) laden with art supplies for the mixed media expressive art class. Ruth from the Muse Group meets me there, also laden with fun art stuff. This week she found me in the garden sketching a lovely corner of the day shelter compound that I hadn’t captured in sketches yet – the Meditation Garden.

TLRmeditationgarden

I was well into this sketch when the subject I would have liked to sketch – a woman who is the owner of the bike – showed up. In the shade of the arbor she unpacked a loaded backpack, got it organized and repacked before heading out on the bike. There’s always a great deal of packing and unpacking going on here at this place where women come for day time respite and services before heading out again, to manage lives that are often lacking in secure housing.

On the day of our art group the resource room where we meet is a bustling place with women using computers for email and phones for inquiries about jobs, housing and a million other life concerns. As they finish up and file out to the hot lunch which is being served in the dining area, we turn the room into an art room with watercolor paper  and colorful inks and acrylic paints spread around the tables, along with stencils and stamps and squirters and scrapers and rollers for application. At noon the women start wandering in, up to seven or eight of them, and soon the small room is full of artists who have no trouble figuring out what to do with the paints!

Ruth and I quickly realized that what these folks needed was not an art class but an opportunity to play with materials without being encumbered by performance expectations. (Don’t we all need that!?)

This past week the room filled with a happy, raucous energy that was reflected in the paintings.  It was the last of our meetings in this series. (The regular Expressive Arts team returns with their wonderful program this coming week.) I think we were all a bit sad to have to draw our time to a close, possibly even especially Ruth and I.

I’ll be back this week though and probably for years to come, helping out with the meditation group, sketching stories and best of all, seeing my friends.

Give it a Name

As soon as you see the face, there’s always a name waiting for it. This one became Oscar.

oscar

inks and gesso on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

I was doing a demonstration of expressive painting with ink droppers, gesso, and scraper tools for a new private student. The next day this fellow in the wonderful cossack hat winked at me. All I had to do was paint in the eye, give him some teeth, and name him.

I hesitated at first. I had to reassure myself that it was OK to be so foolish. Surely I’m a more serious sort of artist than that. Perhaps I’ve been sketching so many people that I just can’t stop? But then perhaps you’ve have noticed that I’m having too much fun lately to stop it.

Here’s another one though, where maybe one can see more serious intent. . .

anarray

acrylic molding paste, textured foil collage, acrylic paint and gold leaf flecks

Embossing foil, collaging with metallic flakes and juxtaposing cool greens/blues and burnt orange are some of the techniques I’ll be sharing in the “Patina” workshop coming up next weekend at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. At this writing there is still time to register for the last spot. For more info and to register visit my website. And by the way, there’s good air conditioning in the painting studio there!!

While the poor little studio air conditioner here tries to help me survive the 100 degree heat outside, these lovely blue squares are the tinkling ice cubes in the glass!

 

Election Day Art Musings

wideworld

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

It’s another of life’s storms raging out in the Wideworld with those skyscrapers piercing the air above and sending frenzied messages. Words are flying and landing, votes soaring and crashing and the markets joining in.

We go a bit green from the dizzying motion of it. After today. . .we hope. . .the sky will no longer be that gunmetal gray.

I guess that about says it. It’s a beautiful sunny day in California. We started a new Monday Muse Group session yesterday with a full group and the inks and gesso lesson I love to do. Start with some tape pieces to act as masking when the paint goes on. Do two pieces with the same color scheme and use one as collage for the other. Introduce some other collage or pictorial element if desired. My demo got so very complicated, but of course that’s an accurate perception of life these days.

wideworldpalette

When I removed the tape pieces and put them on my scrap paper where I try things out first, many new ideas arose.

Out of confusion comes breakthroughs, discoveries, if only we have the patience and fortitude. And today, let us have the hope as well!!

Drawing with Sticks

The Monday Muse Group started a new session this week with ink play using sticks carved from drift wood I collected on the beach last week.

youarethetruthHiggens Black India and acrylic inks and gesso on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

You are the. . .bomb. the explosion, the fire and the flame

You are the river that quenches, the tide pools and eddies, the cascades and falls

You are the turns and bends, the back and forth.

Quit looking elsewhere. it’s all here.

You are the bearer of the truth in layers folded in one upon another

You burn and in the burning cool.

sticks

There is one spot open in the Monday Afternoon Muse Group if you would like to drop in and give it a try! Visit my website for more info and to email me.