mixed media workshops

Demo at Jubilee

I was invited by some new friends to do a demo at the meeting of the Jubilee Art Club last week. They had a beautiful set up with space for social distancing and an overhead mirror so that everyone could see. I knew they were a group of mostly experienced artists who would appreciate the focus on creative process and expressive painting, so I shared my experience with the Muse Groups.

I brought my inks and gesso and demo-ed that fun way to short circuit the left-brain thinking mind by squirting inks and gesso onto wet shapes and moving them around with a scraper, a roller and fingers. The results always lead to a group hallucination which is a hoot and makes people realize that art making can be fun and profound at the same time!

inks and gesso on w/c paper

You’re invited to the Jubilee you know.

Your presence is requested.

So wear your finest top hat.

Come roaring up in a race car

Or astride a steed with matching hat.

This party requires your presence

Inaugurates your next fifty years (more or less)

So no regrets to the host.

Take a nap, eat a hearty meal

Get yourself tanked up and ready.

Because this ship will be leaving and

You must be on it.

Preparations are arranged.

Destination will be discovered.

 

Your presence is required.

 

Studio Celebration

The best way to attract creative energy to a new art studio is to invite The Muses to come and play! Luckily my sketch buddies were game to join me and even engage in a Muse-full afternoon of meditation, mixed media art play, writing, and sharing the results! The studio is just big enough for four of us to comfortably work together. No lessons needed for this group of artists who dove in with no reluctance that I could see!

We started with fluid acrylics and inks on a wet surface, squirted, brushed, scraped and rollered on with some gesso for more texture.

Daler Rowney acrylic inks, gesso, w/c pencil on 10 X 11″ w/c

Spring has its goblins hidden among the blossoms

Their eyes are on YOU

They float banshee-like on gentle breezes

Fertilizing soil and seeds

Buds with time release nutrients

Blooms with no choice but to burst

Scatter to the ground too soon

Pink and white petal tears stoking passions

Aches of restless hearts

         Goblins know all about fleeting beauty and its price.

And here’s a look at the others’ art!

Muse Jane

Muse Jan

Muse Ineke

Four Muses

Spring has now got a toehold in my studio, simultaneous with the draw of the spring garden through the windows. A sweet battle to engage with!

Thank you Muses!

Invitation to Hatch

inks and gesso, collage, brown paper, rice papers, on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

laying an egg

a red earth one yet up high

where the view is better

freshly lain and soon to become

the offspring of a week of plunging

back into a well seasoned life

an invitation to do more hatching back

In the north country

where paints wait to be unpacked

birds to be watched

and a new world cracked open

Thank You Muses!

The postscript on the week in California – the piece I painted that day with the Muse Group. And as I harvested these words during our 5-minute free write, I was surprised by the timer going off just as I wrote the words “thank you Muses!” Indeed!

Now the paints are unpacked in the studio; today was a birdwatching day; and the charms of the north country are beguiling me once again. 

Muse Group Reunion

As soon as I got back home to Olympia over a week ago I was able to move into the art studio that I have been waiting for with great anticipation for the good part of a year. I’ll be sharing some pictures of that soon. But I am now finally getting around to sharing the last chapter of my California visit: an in-person reunion with my beloved Muse Group in Sebastopol.

Since I moved away nine months ago, these ladies, dear friends all, have continued to meet and share their passion for creative expression through mixed media art making. When I said I was coming to town for a visit, they rented a space at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts so we could do a Muse lesson like I used to teach before Covid. It was a rare treat for us all, vaxed and boosted and careful as we all are, we shared time and space and summoned the Muse! I shared poetry and we meditated. Then we stood up and put the whole body into expressive mark making on big sheets of paper with sticks and brushes and fingers while listening to music. 

This group no longer needs instruction for these techniques! We moved seamlessly into more painting and collage and then finished with a free write, harvesting words from the images which had come through us.

The day was a great gift to all of us. For me it bestowed blessings on a return to the mixed media Muse work I’d practically abandoned for the past months when my studio was under plastic in the garage. Now I can’t wait to get back to it as I unpack all the inks and acrylics and textures and papers and collage items! And this group will of course continue their rich creative collaboration with each other!

Escape?

Whenever I get out my acrylic Pouring Medium (Liquitex) I know I’m in for a wild ride where I have no control over the results. You mix fluid acrylic pigment with the pouring medium and suddenly you’ve got a river of color with a mind of its own. It’s like the first time you’re on skates and you’re moving before you’re quite used to the idea. It’s fun like that, especially when you start adding different colors and tipping the paper different ways.

The trick is to figure out what to do with it once you’re done and it’s dry (takes at least 24 hours).

My “pours” often end up looking like somebody, some creature, and I just have to live with it. I always try to make the best of it and see if the creature has something to tell me. . . and it/he/she always does.

Suggestions for these times:

Find a way to stay afloat or aloft

Keep those valuables close

Tied in, tied down

You never know when you’ll need em

A white sheet works swell

Throw stuff in, cinch it up and toss out the window

Make your escape in the dead of night

To where no disaster can touch you

No fires or floods, hurricanes or earthquakes

No politics or plagues or even political plagues

(Good try, you fool. There’s no such place!)

If you want to try some pours, you might check out some other posts I’ve done here, which have more instructions.

Welcome to my studio! (video)

We built my art studio when we moved to Sebastopol, California from the SF Bay Area 20 years ago. It’s a simple building where my creative spirit has taken flight and supported me for these many years through the many vicissitudes of modern life. It has been the home for my workshops and the setting for many ongoing friendships with students. And for years I opened it to the public for open studio events twice a year.

Since the pandemic and sheltering-in-place began three months ago, it has become a kind of hermitage. I have had to cancel workshops and rethink the ways I use my studio, as well as find new ways to encourage myself and others to actively pursue art. In that spirit I invite you into my studio to imagine with art with me.

Since the video here has no voice over, let me just orient you. As you enter you will walk counter clockwise around the room, looking out some windows as well. Those of you who have been here for classes will notice the more open floor. I took down one of the tables to make room to move for streaming Jazzercise classes! The comfortable chair is an addition as now I have the space to read. The paintings on the wall are mostly mixed media acrylics. There are tables to do Muse painting/collage, watercolor illustration, a wall section to clip Muse pieces up as they are “born”, a section for portrait stories of homeless women, and of course birds, birds, birds and then the garden where they live outside.

Enjoy watching the video, while I enjoy imagining meeting you here in person!
welcometostudio

To watch, click on the picture or see it here.

What a difference a word makes

Adding words to your paintings creates new layers of interest. That’s what we explored in Muse Group last week. Using word at the beginning, middle, and/or end. Layering it on, covering it over or uncovering like a palimpsest with traces of meaning remaining mysteriously, leaving the minds of the viewers to make their own sense and meaning.

flowing2I have been wanting to play with different tools to add words. Here I started with the “5 rhythm” piece from the first class, which was painted to flowing music, and used a white gel pen to draw in the word which itself seemed to flow through the color patterns.

chaos2 This piece was painted to the musical rhythm of Chaos, so I chose to use my ink pads and alphabet stamps to create a chaos of  letters, echoing the meaning of the words employing another level of movement.

lyrically2

I had treated myself to a new set of cling foam stamps by Jim Holtz idea-ology and tried them out here with a new ink pad color “potted soil”. The ghost of the letter stamp added a dimensional feel that was a great discovery.

To see the “before” paintings go to Paint the Rhythms and for more about palimpsests go to here and here

In Loving Memory of the Child

If you’re my age, chances are you learned to deal with the boredom of long winter days when there was nothing to do except invent something. (in other words, no electronics). And if you were an only child like me, whose family kept moving to different states, you had loads of time on your own. Luckily I had a mom who kept me endowed with art supplies. Scissors, pencils, paper and magazines, and an occasional empty shoe box were enough to keep me busy. Fashion design for paper dolls was high on my list of boredom busters.

But fast forward to my Muse Group, which met last week for the last class in the current series of mixed media lessons. I call this lesson “painting with water”, meaning that you paint a shape onto watercolor paper with water – either a spontaneous abstract shape or realistic one. Then you “charge” fluid paint lightly into the shape, add different colors, tip the paper to blend, paint outside the wet shape, etc, etc.

You can probably guess at my initial wet shape below. I had nothing in mind until I opened up a magazine and found the most outlandish “latest” fashion and started chopping it up for collage. . .just like when I was 6!

cutandpaste

fluid acrylics, collage, gel pen on w/c paper 10 X 11″

There will be a two month break til the next Mixed Media Playful Muse Group starts up again. I’m already missing my fellow Muse-rs who fill the studio with their uniquely creative energies.

Registration is now open for  next six-week series which will be held Tuesday afternoons, January 21-February 25, 2020. Visit my website  for more information and feel free to contact me if you’re interested in joining us.

Mirror, mirror

We tried a new idea in Muse Group this week. I called it “Use What You Get Collage”. Everyone came with a folder/file of at least 10 collage items that they’d picked because they fit together in some way- color, theme, designs.

In class we passed our folders to a person on the left, so we all had a “surprise” collection of collage pieces. It felt like a present and initially exciting!

From the folder we were “gifted” we each picked at least five collage items to which we could add whatever we wanted to make a finished piece. It turned out to be more of a challenge, for me at least, than I’d figured on! It took a lot of design-mind problem solving to make it work. And that’s exactly why it was so fruitful.

mirrormirror

Mirror mirror whatdoyasay?

the world may be ending soon

but I’m still here in this mess

refusing to ignore the beauty 

I’ll wear it in my hair

wrap it round my body

extol it, consume it, remember it

paint it and write it down

till the end of my time

and all without a whine.

A bit of clarification here. My collage gift pieces were all lovely greens and blues: National Geographic pages showing debris in the ocean, jewelry, woven textiles, rubber gloves . .. To have a focus I added the picture of a woman and some mylar for the mirror (which photographed as black).

I also added the following quote from a little book Women’s Wit and Wisdom, which you’re probably not able to read:

“While others may argue about whether the world ends with a bang or a whimper, I just want to make sure mine doesn’t end with a whine.”

War of the Splatters!

There are days when it feels like the wars “out in the world” are being waged internally as well. Those are the days to make splatter art with friends!

That’s what happened in my Muse Group on Monday as we took the lead from the irresistible Ralph Steadman, a Welsh illustrator who uses splatters and other ink irregularities to create irreverent mythical creatures. We started the class by watching this video. I recommend this as a great way to loosen up, lighten up and have a chuckle to avoid taking yourself too seriously and ruining all the fun.

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 1.00.02 PM

So we loaded up our brushes and mouth atomizers and splattered and sprayed, trying not to lob one on each other. . .

war!

And there was the war of the critters!

By the end of class the room had filled up with colorful, zany critters. Who knew all those creatures were just lying in wait to be liberated by a bunch of mixed media painters!

See some earlier Steadman inspired work here and here.