I was recently invited to show my portrait sketches of women from The Living Room on a Santa Rosa public art site called Inside OUT There. I’m happy to announce that you can now see the on line exhibition of these portrait stories. This project provides an intimate look at the lives of women who are or who have been homeless. During my year and a half of volunteering at The Living Room, I made friends with the women and children, led art and meditation groups, and sketched stories of the activities.
As women got to know me, they talked about their lives, let me sketch their portraits, and helped me to tell their stories. When the pandemic hit and the doors were shut on indoor services, I sketched the transition and switched to portraits of women wearing masks as they came for the food and other services at the outdoor location.
Please take a few minutes to visit the exhibition on line. You can look at the portraits full screen, read the stories, and navigate through them like a slideshow.
I would love to know your reactions to these picture-stories. Please share your thoughts in comments here, where they would be greatly appreciated.
I parked myself under the trees at The Living Room this week to grab a sketch of of the scene. The staff and volunteers have figured out a way to feed people in need while still following the shelter in place guidelines. . .by handing the to go food out the kitchen window! Breakfast and lunch are inside the bag and if you want to see the lovely food they’re serving to about 120 people a day, visit their Facebook page!
I arrived after the morning rush. I’ve missed my weekly visits to The Living Room where I talk to people, sketch the stories and portraits of the women who come. But it’s good to see that they’re able to continue serving so many people during this time even though the facility cannot be open as a day shelter. And they continue to hand out necessities for people who are homeless, like toiletries, clean socks, pet food, and now of course, masks! If you feel inspired to help, there are easy ways to help, which can be found here.
I’ve been missing my friends at The Living Room, the day shelter for women and children in Santa Rosa. The portrait project I’ve been working on for months came to an abrupt halt with the Shelter in Place order and The Living Room had to follow along and close its doors to prevent contagion spread among staff and the homeless women they serve.
But now the creative and hard working staff has reopened not the gate, but a window and Monday – Friday is serving those scrumptious and nutritious hot lunches they are known for. . .to go!
But they’ve also been coordinating with other groups to do what they can to continue to serve the homeless and at risk population, which has now grown exponentially. One day staff was making hand sanitizer in the dining room while practicing social distancing.
I wish I could have been there to help and of course sketch live! But I was able to add this sketch, done from a picture, to my growing book of stories from The Living Room.
Happy Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos! With such thick post-fire angst in our communities here in Sonoma County, it’s been a good time to let off steam, indulge in gallows humor and make playful art. I decided to launch the next Muse Group yesterday with monster ink-drips a la Stefan Bucher the Daily Monster creator. Check out his fun website to see the technique.
The sound effect that goes with this monster is a loud, wet raspberry thwit! This guy suffers no fools and we love him for it!
The spider webs and tarantulas invaded the studio when they got wind of the lesson plans.
They spun their webs all over the tables and even got into the paintings! And then, for some of us they even got into the words!
Pay attention you may notice. It doesn’t have to be Halloween for one to wear a mask. It doesn’t have to be October 31st for one to become a monster. Our daily masks and monsters love to play to an audience. Most of the time no one notices or cares much, except when they get out of hand and start shouting or moaning or generally demanding too much. Therein lies the danger!
So, don your mask and take your monster out for a walk every so often (like Halloween!). Let it strut and boo and hiss, all in good fun. Then you can keep your friends.
Grin and Bear It. I have no doubt that each person looking at this art piece will find his/her own meaning, and it will be odd. It’s an odd piece, so let me explain. I introduced a new lesson in Muse Group which involved making a mask, not one to be worn, but a 2D version. I passed out pictures of indigenous mask art as ideas and suggested we go for a primitive art look. The students had no problem with this and each produced a totally unique version of their own tribal mask.
Since I have spent some time in British Columbia and seen a lot of First Nations totem art, I chose this image. As I progressed I got more and more creeped out by the image and in fact committed a totally uncool act (for a teacher) when we showed our pieces at the end. (my finger pointed down my throat, get it?)
But I truly believe that in the quest for truly original art making we must at times step over the threshold of easy-on-the-eyes and into the land of grotesque. And so I proudly share this breakthrough piece with you, and hope it doesn’t give you any nightmares. Perhaps you will even recognize it as a spirit guardian .
I thought I would try out the gray hair look, along with some other nature touches. The Mask Grove at camp was nestled in a bay tree grove where ample lichen and lacy leaves formed a carpet of natural collage materials. The partial plaster mask was lovingly made by Vic to form fit our faces. Later we performed a mask dance on stage to rumba music!
These are “Metaphora Cards”, 5 “X 8” and made with acrylic paints and collage on mat board in an art process similar to the Muse Groups but with the added benefit of having the teacher Suzanne Edminster (my wonderful Four Hands Painting buddy) on hand to read them like Tarot cards! She had so many fascinating things to say about them. I wish I’d had my tape recorder handy!
Something about focusing in on this one, but she turned it upside down and got even more material from the image!
And for a while these cards joined a deck provided to people for “readings”, an intriguing alternative to Soul Collage cards and a perfect camp art activity!