mixed media painting

Some Advise about Monsters

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.

monstermash

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!

MuseHalloween-2The spider webs and tarantulas invaded the studio when they got wind of the lesson plans.

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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!

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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.

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Inside-Outside Nature Art

We combined the elements of fire and water in Monday’s Muse lesson of powdered charcoal. For fire we had the charcoal residues of fire and the scorching solar heat. The water was washed streaming over the charcoal to make it move beautifully across the paper. In previous years when I taught this lesson 2014 and 2016 it was similarly in hot-hot weather, the better to quickly dry the sopping wet papers!

Here’s my finished demo:

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acrylic and collage on powdered graphite texture, 10 X 11″

The world is divided by borders; mountains and rivers and oceans and lines to keep people separate. Would we know who we are without all the borders or would we stand in confusion looking up at the sky in hopes of getting directives there?

I vote for color that streams across borders and makes a rainbow sky, a rainbow country, and a rainbow world. 

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Sprinkle some powdered charcoal on the dry paper. Here I added some iridescent pigment powder as well. Pour water over the surface and watch the spontaneous dispersion. When dry you can come back in with an eraser, which I did in this, erasing through a stencil.

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I love the way the charcoal granules pattern the paper surface. When this stage is dry and before adding paint, spray workable fixative or mat medium diluted with water and let that dry to seal the charcoal.

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We went outside in the shade to do the charcoal sprinkling and water pouring.

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The charcoal is in the salt shaker in front.  The stencils and iridescent pigments were particularly popular and now my garden sparkles in the light a bit more than usual!

MuseGraphite-03_edited-1The splatter screen served as a kind of sifter for the charcoal.

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I always love to see nature art in the context of the nature that inspires it. Here it is just leaves and mulch.

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. . .and tree trunks and garden green and the beginning of fall leaves, and the golden glow of light spreads across the painting making it a part of it all.MuseGraphite-05

. . .and here, in anticipation of what this fall season will bring!

Thanks to the Muse students for once again taking a lesson beyond its previous borders. These beautiful beginnings made their way back into the studio to be developed with more color and some collage.

 

Beauty

This Monday each time I looked up from my painting to check on the Muse Group students, they were working intently and without pause on their paintings. No one had questions. There seemed to be a host of silent advisors in the room (the ones we call Muses) directing the activity. In the lesson we were using opaque passages to sculpt and design shapes on transparent under paintings. Rivers of inks and fluid acrylics were flowing onto the pages. Next day I rescued the paper towels from the trash and made a corsage.

corsage

I would like to wear this or make it wall sized. Spray it with shellac to preserve it. Make tiny ones to put on pins or hair clips. Design sheets and mugs and T-shirts. And I will probably do none of these, but go back to my delectable acrylic paints for more stunning combinations, which seem endless!

We’ve been enjoying the poetry of John O’Donahue to inspire our own understanding of Beauty. If you want to partake of his insights you might enjoy his interview on the podcast On Being.

This week we contemplated color. In his book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace O’Donahue wrote “Color is always reaching toward us. The eye is the secret destination of color. A color is never alone for each color arises through the interplay of other colors. Color is always a dance with invisible partners.”

The interplay of complementary colors is just such a dance. Once you know that its the red that makes a green landscape vibrate with green-ness you are gaining access to the secret kingdom of color.

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(class demo using semi-opaque green passages glazed over a red background)

Some Beauty is sharp and cutting, pricking into areas long hidden, letting the air out of bubbles, lurking and then jabbing and hiding again behind blooms and pretty smiles, this floral guise designed to lure and then strike at that which needs cutting down.

Its all in the plan, this poke that teaches even as it hurts, then swabs the wound with its beguiling beauty.

Cat Woman

There are no more Monday Muse Group sessions until September, but this Muse-ing is a habit which continues. I’m going to take this time to redo some of the lessons and explore them further.

So I pulled out a piece of Mylar I had played around with and gotten some interesting blending of colors, and found the beginnings of Cat Woman. After some cutting and pasting and painting, here’s what came of it/her.

catwoman

Cat Woman stares into the mists of time. The days and hours are not relevant, nor the passage of one afternoon. She knows these are all products of a restless mind. She seeks the swirling mists of eons and cares not about presidential fumbling through this calendar year. Her heart is steady, her eyes focused on some ineffable horizon, her ears tuned to earth murmurs others cannot hear. Ancient though she is, still she holds in her fur and bones a newborn’s innocence and wonder.

It’s good to have a Cat Woman in mind. She’s got her priorities straight.

I miss doing the mixed media muse art in the group, but also know that many of you are continuing to explore these inner art realms on your own and remain in companionship with all of us.

The Monday Afternoon Muse Group will resume with a 6-week session September 18-October 23 and registration for this has already started. For more information and to reserve a spot visit my website.

Skeeter

When we were making collage papers in Muse Group by splattering National Geographics with Citrasolv concentrate, a spell binding creature appeared on a page. That was the impetus for this piece, combining ink, collage and acrylic. See if you can tell which material is which, or just take a look and let the creature weave its spell on you.

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If I were a s’keeter the world might look like this, from second to second cracked open, taken apart and then put back together all new. I’d have to keep figuring it out, like a person with amnesia or short term memory loss. 

Would that really be so bad, every second a new world? or richly phantasmagoric.

Palette Skins

Acrylic skins. There are so many ways to make them, by accident or on purpose, because acrylic paints and mediums are by their very nature plastic and malleable and peelable when dry. And you can cut them and punch holes in them and glue them on where you need them. Make skins with fluid acrylics or inks mixed with acrylic mediums. Pouring Medium is particularly fun. Make medallions or encase strips of music and glass beads in the medium as I’ve done here. Let it dry overnight on plastic sheet protectors and peel them off the next day or week or year!

This was the demo I did for Monday Muses.

fragranceacrylic skins, acrylics and ink line applied with a stick on 10 X 11″ w/c paper

Go out to your garden on a moonlit night and stand where you can see your shadow cast on what in daylight was familiar and now. . .take a deep breath and inhale. That’s the moon-nighted fragrance that blends with dreams and is always sweet scented with mystery.

Windows

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Heavy body acrylics on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

The secrets behind closed doors – they’re the ones that entice us to take a closer look.  This was the idea behind this recent lesson, which explored the notion of windows and doors, of openings into other worlds.  Rather than keep you in too much suspense, I’ll open the window for you.

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You get the idea, I’m sure.  “A Young Man” by Botticelli.  He reminded me of my two sons.

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Two mixed media pieces, glued together with window openings

And if you open those windows, you see. . .

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We hide too much behind closed doors, locked and bolted. We even forget where we put the key. Better that way, we think.

But “I believe that somewhere in the darkest night ” of those locked closets, concealed behind layers of curtains and outmoded clothes, there’s an open window where we can

Gaze in at the pain.  You think it will bite you. 

Gaze in at the anger.  You think it will burn you

even though it’s  been biting and burning you for all these many years.

Open wide those windows and gaze in.