I’m getting back to the mixed media expressive play I’ve practiced for the past 15-16 years, my Muse work. Sometimes if feels a bit like I’m Dumbledore, touching a wand to my head and drawing out images I didn’t know were there, and dropping them into the mist of the paper surface where I can begin to have an inkling of how I feel about “things” in my life.
More often what comes out is not “personal” so much as what I feel going on in the world at the time. Small wonder that cutting and pasting and painting of images accesses some preverbal level, and most recently brought me the war in Ukraine. But the personal image pops in as well. Here it’s the found blueprint of our beloved dining table with the view in Sebastopol! Putting them together as in a dream is an act of conjure.
Looking for a soft landing?
On the way down through danger lands
Flying fragments of previously ordered lives
Better to stay airborne (if possible)
Search for that dining table with the view
Bundle up that and other memories
To share when the storm dies down
If . . .
Spread arms like wings like blankets over the flames
In my “old home” I used to spend a great deal of my time in my studio, a modest detached building next to the house surrounded by garden. The deal about moving was that the studio would hopefully have some degree of separation from the house, the washer/dryer and every other manner of house chore interruption. In the “new home”, that separation will be a wall built inside the garage. . .eventually. Apparently there’s a shortage of contractors for that kind of work here.
So I packed up my “old studio” with that delay in mind, and built a sort of wall partition of those boxes here. Then I pulled out just the supplies for mixed media play, otherwise sometimes known as my Conversations With the Muse.
As you can see there are windows to let in light and even the fluorescents for nighttime and overcast days, and the water is a quick walk across the garage. Who needs more that this?! A fan sometimes, but otherwise I’m good.
The start here was to tear up an old painting, always a great way to start when you have nothing in mind. A bunny kept hopping through my mind, so I knew to put bunnies in. They wanted to hide, but you know they’re not very good at it. The bunnies in my yard are different shades of brown and buff and easily seen on the green grass which they love to munch. In the bunny world you learn to freeze if a possible predator, like one of those towering humans, gets close. Bunny lore has it that you cannot be seen if you stay still enough. Haha! But when the big bumbling human reaches for the cell phone to get that coveted picture, the next thing the human sees is the white of the cottontail and startled, drops the phone! So I had to paint some bunnies since I couldn’t get a good enough picture to share with you here! Maybe there’s a hidden teaching here, but I didn’t find it. The bunnies are enough.
It felt good to tear paper and paste and draw and all that. I miss my Muse Group but I can sit at my table among the boxes in the garage and be happy to be at play again. Time to do another now!
Sometimes lately it feels like the whole world is migrating. No wonder. My small family are all moving this summer. Bob and I to Olympia, Washington next month. Andrew possibly to Seattle. Ben to Ashville, N.C. Lots of people are also staying put, of course. But there are so many human migrations going on just now. And look at the oceans and the skies!
But before a migration, there’s a certain amount of shaking up that seems necessary to dislodge one. Me, I’ve been in that drink blender for a while now. You know, throw in a bit of this, a bit of that, and turn on the blender. Now i’m sloshing around in the glass and about to spill out.
She got all dressed up ready to go. The wind and waves were fierce, and her boat so tiny. Her fish friends were not sure she would take them along. They offered to come along for protection and she said sure, jump in, but they declined. So she jumped into the water with them.
It must be a springtime thing, but this year it feels different. There are just so many creatures making themselves known, flying close or settling themselves nearby or even on me with skin contact. Caterpillars, yes, but butterflies and hummingbirds, and bees, and lizards, and dragonflies. A crane fly flew inside my shirt yesterday and could not be coaxed out. And two nights ago I took a walk up the road at dusk and saw a fox wending his way slowly down the road ahead of me, stopping periodically, and was he looking back? And finally just as I got to my property I saw that he’d gone up the neighbor’s driveway across the street and was sitting there looking my way.
And did I mention the wild turkeys and quail that have startled me by landing practically at my feet, suddenly out of nowhere? Were they always so present in the springtime, or is it just that I have been shining the tractor beam of my awareness on my surroundings here at my home before I leave it, storing up endless mental pictures to take with me?
To the birds and the butterflies, the ants and the tree frogs who have tolerated me in their jungle antechambers for all these one and twenty years, I offer up my books of Muse art and word. May you share the bounty of your natural gifts with others as you have with me. And may all bear witness to your unique gifts and strive in every way to protect them. Amen!
Sheltering in place does little to protect one from the news of a world spiraling out of control. In times like these, what’s a person to do?
I thanked Lizard for the wisdom shared last week and moved on to see what would come next through the art oracle!
With nothing in particular in mind, I pulled out my tower of unfinished mixed media starts looking for something that caught my eye, or rather, imagination. Some of the acrylic “skins” I’d saved brought to mind a swirling cosmos and archaic symbols. They were formed by pouring rivers of (leftover) paint (fluid acrylic paint mixed with pouring medium) onto plastic and letting them merge and dry.
One of the skin pieces looked like a face, and when I moved it around and set it just so on another piece, it became a person! No more painting was necessary to complete the picture, just an underpainting of an ink wash and some more cut skins for feathers.
And then the Indian spirit spoke, in these phrases:
In times like these . . .
I cannot shake the burden that weighs on my spirit.
My third eye opens to see across the abyss of ignorance before me and opens new pathways. . .
My feathers vibrate for peace.
I dance to the drum beats and reed flutes and chanting that vibrates with nature’s currents.. .
. . .signaling an existence where people care for each other and live in harmony.
If you live around here, it’s likely your mind is running those opening notes to The Twilight Zone. This is the scene that many of us in fire country woke to this morning.
Quite lovely actually, and cool air with not a hint of smoke. . .down here anyway. But so strange, and a bit ominous.
And a great opportunity to find a way to wrap the art around it. My Muse friends have accepted a challenge to work with black gesso and develop it into a mixed media work these two weeks. Here’s how I began:
Then I pawed around in my mountains of collage materials, cut some things out, and started to feel a story coming when I found two main pictorial elements:
Is there anyone out there who isn’t confused about where we’re going with this pandemic? It makes us a bit ditzy, wondering what other people are doing to cope, I mean other than wearing masks in public, taking walks, zooming, and watching whole series’ seasons on Netflix.
Me, I do some deeply satisfying art dawdling in my art studio each day. Sometimes I start by cutting up a doodled painting from another day and seeing where the pieces take me. It feels so right to recycle art at this point in time. This particular one came together when I found the woman, and felt I could relate.
acrylics, black and white gesso, collage, white gel pen
She’s a bit confused. . .aren’t we all?!
Oops! Don’t walk off the edge.
“It” came from China on a wave.
Where is everyone going? We’re still on a Shelter in Place order!
Of course it’s particularly distressing when our medical heros, the scientists we rely on to find the cures, are unable to reassure us. This Covid virus is still eluding the best of them! It seems we still have more questions than answers.
gesso textured w/c paper with acrylic inks, gesso and citrasolv collage.
I almost put cations on this piece as well, but decided to leave it open to interpretation. Please fill in any dialogue that comes to mind.