Mixed media workshop

Early Spring Musings

Sometimes I just want to look at the blossoms and not remember the storms that brought us here. Look at the green and the lacy morning dew and imagine that this world is mine, as is, right now. Not just in process and needing to be weeded. Not because it all will soon enough disappear, torched by summer’s draught. But just because it is right now. . .mine.

Lookatthefruit

acrylic textures (molding pastes), acrylic inks and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

It is apple blossom season here in Sonoma County. You don’t want to blink and miss it! You don’t want to miss the butterflies fluttering through the garden, drinking apple blossom nectar, mating, and laying eggs on the pipevine. Gardening is a great excuse to be outside with hands in the dirt, and art making gravitates always to these spring colors and forms.

In Muse group we were playing with a wide variety of texture making tools and many of the acrylic mediums now on the market, from molding paste and crackle paste to gels with clear flakes and pumice. You could spend a fortune in the art store gathering up the various mediums to get texture. It’s what happens when you put fluid paint over them that excites me.

I’ll be teaching a weekend mixed media workshop June 24 and 25 where we’ll be using textures like these to achieve the light casting sparkle of Patina!  For more information and to register please visit my website.

Metallic textures

Did you get an escape this winter yet? There’s such an urge sometimes to flee cold-rainy-icy-stormy-gray- weather. And then there’s the fear of what is happening to our country and the planet especially under the guidance (?!) of our new president. It can bring to mind the peace of a tropical isle somewhere. (Just don’t think about rising sea levels.)  Small wonder that when I put my art hungry fingers to work on this piece, sculpting and collaging with foil, a bare limbed tree took off running with suitcase in hand.

escapeacrylics, inks and foil collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Of course as I type this my son is packing his bag for another move. It was not I, but some members of my Monday Muse Group where we were exploring this lesson, who first saw this connection. Such wise souls!

I’m not going anywhere for a while, and besides, the sun has come out in all its winter finery with dazzling sunrises and blooming Daffodils and Daphne, that most fragrant of pink flowering plants.  And I’m wondering now what was all the fuss about winter.

What Kind of Creature

If you’re asking what kind of creative this is, then maybe you don’t know about animal spirits.

whatkindofcreature

crinkled Masa paper, inks, collage on w/c paper 10 X 11″

What kind of creature is that? you ask, as if animal spirits confine themselves to only one specie. These spirits are known to take the form of imagination and keep you guessing, to move with stealth and vigor across the page even while standing still. 

This one looks you in the eye and knows you, as the mirror does. . .only more. Knows your mental undergrowth to be a brambles and yet is comfortable there.

. . .even as you in your waking state find your hair standing on end to confront that gaze.

Look, I don’t dream up these creatures. They appear out of somewhere/nowhere. This one was (partially) a demo of various ink splotchings, stick drawing etc. for the Wabi Sabi workshop two weekends ago. It needed to be liberated from a piece that was going nowhere, so I cut it out and found a home for it/him/her on another underpainting of crinkled Masa paper.

It was a real Halloween character, this pregnant bunny/deer dancing creature. Isn’t this the way we often put together a costume, feeling free to mix metaphors.  Mine this year was a combination ballerina (tutu) and pirate (hat) and probably some other elements when combined with Jazzercise leggings and shoes.

Poetry of Wabi Sabi workshop

Last Saturday I taught the mixed media workshop, titled The Poetry of Wabi Sabi, in Ukiah for the Mendocino Art Association . Wabi Sabi, the quality of things that suggests a natural process, vulnerable to effects of time, weathering, human treatment, yet still possessing poetry, poise and strength of character. We explored this esthetic by making textures, and moving inks and paints in spontaneous ways, collaging papers and more, keeping in mind the words of some favorite poets/artists such as:

Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.  -Salvador Dali

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. – Lao Tse

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.  -Crowfoot

In the following painting I was demonstrating gesso texture and using a stencil with sumi ink. In the Monday Muse Group this week I had time to finish it and write.

lightgesso texture, sumi ink, acrylic inks, stenciled patterns, cricket stamp, on w/c paper

This piece was prompted by the poem:

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

                  -Leonard Cohen

and how the cricket gets inside the house and calls to his comrades on the outside.

We live indoors in imagined compliance with the world outside, forgetting to notice the glory of light shining through the cracks. Nature’s sanctity beckons steady and true, even as we pursue the folly of perfection. (my response)

yugenInks on dry gesso texture, writing with a stick dipped in Diamine Silver Fox  ink

Another workshop demo that I later finished. The word yugen, yoo-gehn, is Japanese and means, “an awareness of the universe that triggers feelings too deep and mysterious for words”.  Enough said!

Nightengale

nightengale

tissue prints, stencil prints, acrylic paint and inks on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Windows overgrown with branches rising up from deepest roots.

Is there an opening for the nightengale to sing his love songs?

A shade is pulled down, yet he continues

Even in the dark of the moon, joining the chorus of crickets and night creepings.

There’s a shimmer of movement in the house, and the shutters are thrown wide.

There’s something so heart rending about a nightengale who sings the night long to attract his love. Here we call them mockingbirds because they have such a spectacular range of bird calls, covering most of the bird kingdom with their repertoire.

The romance of the nightly song dies, of course, when one is trying to sleep through it. This has only happened to me once for a period of over a week.

What brought forth this loose train of thought was not a recent experience, but a blob of ink on the paper which looked bird-like, which they often do! And then there was the black brambles and the square grid-like, window-like shapes. The mind quite easily shapes itself to what is seen on the paper, especially in the company of fellow explorers, like the students in my Muse group. We shared many such mind expansions on Monday as we let black inks and acrylic paints have their way on our paper.

October 22 I’ll be teaching a similar day long workshop in Ukiah for the Mendocino Arts Association. There may still be a couple spaces left in that one. Visit their website for more information.

There’s Always a Way

There’s always a way. . .

alwaysaway

ink, gesso, watercolor pencils on 10 X 10″ w/c paper

there is always a way around or through or behind

a zig and a zag to sidestep an enemy

pointers to show you the way

but look for their subtle shapes

follow them through narrow spaces

make yourself ever so small and silent and inconspicuous

there are clouds to hide in until the landscape clears enough for a bold new direction.

there is always a way

I am a champion of intuitive thinking and decision making, a Piscean, always willing to float in murky waters, swim in different directions, hanging out until an answer presents itself and feels right.

Sometimes of course this is very frustrating. I admire those who seem to know who they are, make well considered plans and carry them out successfully, especially artists who set a direction for their art and stick to it, at least for a while. I am always a bit surprised at my own successes and reluctant to take any personal credit because they seem too external.

The real delight for me is to see what happened on the paper or canvas when I was just busy trying to get the right color on my brush. Ironic then, that I would find myself in the teacher role. But I am willing to jump into the murky waters with other artists and see what shared revelations may occur. That’s what my Artful Muse courses are about, along with lots of mixed media materials and technique fun.

A new Monday Muse Group starts September 12 and there are a couple spots open at this point if you’re interested in joining. In the October 8 and November 12 mini-workshops we’ll be continuing the exploration of the Japanese esthetic Wabi Sabi.

drawwithstick

On October 8 the focus will be finding natural ways to apply inks, graphite and charcoal to paper, making marks with sticks and more.

sepia+ricepaper.jpg

On November 12 we’ll be exploring natural textures and paper overlays. For more information about all my courses visit my website and contact me with any questions!

The Lure of Patina

patinademo

embossed gesso texture, metallic mix of acrylics on w/c paper, 10 X 10″

This is a demo from the Pleasanton Art League workshop (two weekends ago now!) where we experimented with different acrylic textures and fluid acrylics mixed with metallics like Golden’s Micaceous Iron Oxide and Iridescent Bright Gold to get that aged metallic or patina look. The problem is that one can never really capture the sparkle in a photograph, so you’ll just have to imagine it! And I’m not sure yet whether I’m done with this one.  The multiply layers of glaze just seem to improve it, and I might even add some collage.

I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend with this fun group in their lovely Firehouse Art Center, where I taught a sketching workshop about four years ago.