#mixedmediaworkshops #patina #abstractacrylic

New Mixed Media Group starts Oct 29!

A new 6-week session of Muse Group fun starts at the end of the month and you’re invited to join!  We’ll be doing more lessons like this one, applying acrylic inks and gesso in abstract designs, adding textures and collage, and words. For more information and to register visit my website.

Two weeks ago we started out with a familiar Zen concept, that of enso, a Japanese word meaning circle and symbolizing the absolute, enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, the void. . .the expression of the moment when the mind is free to let the body/spirit create! enso1

If I were to step into this ENSO, there might be repercussions. Well, I hope so. There’s got to be a something in the white nothing. I can stand here forever on the outside, weaving my wreath of inks and collage, but the inside is where the ad-venture starts. . .the journey to the center of a swirling mass of colors and shapes, the bottom of the well. . .the ____ ?

The circle shape does raise the question of “what’s inside?” It points to what often cannot be seen or even if seen, words may fail to describe it adequately.  Of course that’s the business of the image, to suggest without spelling it out. In Muse Group we write for five minutes after the image making, not to describe or define the image, but perhaps to go deeper into the mystery of it.

In another enso piece, exploring the radiating form of the circle shape, the appearance of crickets led to more disturbing thoughts.  . .

enso2

What attracts them to the maelstrom which may be their oblivion? Is it the march of their species rising out of a wrong turn by some of its members, with the inexorable pull of primitive tribalism?  (Are we only talking crickets here?)

Who do we follow in life’s march, the one who we recognize as most familiar, or the wise one(s) who takes off down a new road that we cannot yet see the end of. Either way oblivion is terrifying, but also inevitable.

 

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Light-footed

A new Muse Group session started up last week. I’ve taken the summer off from teaching and it’s great to be back doing this intuitive painting/collaging work. I like to always start the class back up with acrylic inks because they can be squirted onto the page with droppers! Meaning that we can throw caution to the wind, at least initially, and then develop a piece with the part of the brain that embraces serendipity.

lightfootedclass demo: acrylic inks and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

She is light-footed, buzzing with the bees and nesting with the birds, throwing herself out in a string of tags – one day a mother, another a star on a stage, and yet another a winged creature.

Her blessings are cast everywhere, yet she remains at the center of it all, animated and relaxed, energetic and focused. Sometimes she wraps the strings around her for protection, like shields, pulling the birds and the bees with her into a cocoon.

It can be daunting to tackle a painting like this which begins with “ink play”, so I got out my rubber stamp collection, which is considerable at this point. Some of them were purchased and many were carved into soft linoleum blocks.

The class exercise was to wet portions of the watercolor paper with water, squirt on some inks (3 colors max!) and let them mix a bit, and then add some gesso “worms” and run the roller or other tool through them to mix. I like to put some gesso of the lighter weight variety into an applicator (like a mustard container) and squeeze it onto the paper.

Then, while the paint was wet, press the rubber stamp into it and then stamp that on the paper as well. Voila! You’re already halfway to a finished painting that is harmonious and has interest!

Transparent Overlays

I’m still catching up on Muse Group demos from June. I had promised in the last class that we would do image transfers, but realized that it’s better to have another week to work on them, since the technique can sometimes create some false starts. So instead we used transparent overlays.

This is a great technique to use when you’re not comfortable with your drawing skills but want to incorporate a drawn image into your painting surface. Trace the image you want onto a transparent overlay, which could be regular tracing paper, light-weight “rice paper” or Dura-lar (the acetate alternative).  Move it around on the painted surface til you find the sweet spot where the paint shows through to advantage and glue it down with gel medium.

The bird here was my tracing. The paper became transparent when the medium dried so the underpainting shows through.

senorita

acrylic inks, transparent image overlay and other collaged paper on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

This señorita keeps her song going all June long. Dresses herself in colors each day, strutting along the limb, doing the limb-o all warm and fluid like an island girl. She keeps one eye on me and wonders why I wear a long face some days, when there’s always a heady fragrance and new tune to dance to.

Come eat your lunch with me, she says. Pura vida! What could be so bad anyway?

Well, don’t get me started, little bird. Don’t you read the newspapers?!!

Nevertheless, I appreciate her concerns, and so I’ve taken to eating my lunch outside under the flight pattern of birds between the bird feeder and fountain where they bathe. It goes a long way to lifting those cares.

Mylar Fun

My mixed media Muse Group has ended now for the summer. I always miss my weekly dose of art play in the group. I say “play” but of course making art can also be serious business when you’re an adult. To combat that seriousness I try to introduce a new material or technique each time, one that is impossible to “control” so it throws a wild card into the pot. (I think that’s a mixed metaphor in my mixed media explanation here!)

One week last month that wild card was mylar, that shiny silvery mirror-like polyester film that can be bought in rolls. It’s not really for painting, which is why it’s a great mixed media surface to play around with when pushing the envelope. (Another strange metaphor?)

mylarcity

Acrylic painted Mylar collaged with painted screen on acrylic painted w/c paper, 10X11″

Entropy in the city. Everyone trying to keep their balls in the air simultaneously. How is it possible that the buildings remain standing and don’t come apart at the seams and float up, and towers lean over from the sheer weight of people at rush hour?

Q: Where are the cars and busses and pedestrians here?

A: Down below in the well-worn grooves.

I’m always in a state of amazement in big cities. I think I did this piece not long after my trip to Brooklyn.

By the way, if you’re interested in getting into the Muse Group, now is a good time. I just opened registration for a six-week Monday Afternoon group in my Sebastopol, California studio starting September 10. For more information and to register visit my website.

A Square Creates Order (or tries)

A square attempts to bring order out of chaos here in this demo from the Patina workshop last weekend. The last touch was a bit of scumbling over the rough surface with a finger dipped in bronze paint.

windows

Workshop demo: acrylic on textured surface, painted foil and mylar collage on w/c paper

Try looking in the mirror. This personhood has so many fun house distortions . Open those windows and the pieces buzz around and fly out. Airborne they eventually become stars and find their way home to a green planet somewhere you are.

 

Give it a Name

As soon as you see the face, there’s always a name waiting for it. This one became Oscar.

oscar

inks and gesso on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

I was doing a demonstration of expressive painting with ink droppers, gesso, and scraper tools for a new private student. The next day this fellow in the wonderful cossack hat winked at me. All I had to do was paint in the eye, give him some teeth, and name him.

I hesitated at first. I had to reassure myself that it was OK to be so foolish. Surely I’m a more serious sort of artist than that. Perhaps I’ve been sketching so many people that I just can’t stop? But then perhaps you’ve have noticed that I’m having too much fun lately to stop it.

Here’s another one though, where maybe one can see more serious intent. . .

anarray

acrylic molding paste, textured foil collage, acrylic paint and gold leaf flecks

Embossing foil, collaging with metallic flakes and juxtaposing cool greens/blues and burnt orange are some of the techniques I’ll be sharing in the “Patina” workshop coming up next weekend at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. At this writing there is still time to register for the last spot. For more info and to register visit my website. And by the way, there’s good air conditioning in the painting studio there!!

While the poor little studio air conditioner here tries to help me survive the 100 degree heat outside, these lovely blue squares are the tinkling ice cubes in the glass!

 

Geology

My latest experiments in the art laboratory explore the territory of “patina”. They are usually a response to the query “I wonder what would happen if. . .” and in this case. . .if I wet the watercolor paper and paint into it with iridescent paints. The metallic particles drop out of solution on the wet surface causing spontaneous “events”.

geology

Lumiere’s Halo Blue Gold and Metallic Bronze and Golden’s Iridescent Bright Gold acrylics and Higgen’s Black India ink on w/c paper (with plaster of paris medallion)

The frustrating thing about these patina paintings is the difficulty in photographing the reflective paints, so you’ll have to use your imagination because they’ve gone flat in this image. The lovely blue is actually the blue portion of the Blue Gold as the gold is left behind by the water.

Imagine the treasures that surface on the trails we walk. Then again imagine the ones packed within the earth’s core. The restless imagination becomes a geologist digging deeper into that landscape, more wondrous and bizarre, that cannot be seen with mere eyes.

And then it surfaces again, to the just-enough-loveliness of everyday to sweeten this perplexing gift of life.

I’ll be teaching a new version of Experimental Mixed Media Painting: “Patina” at Sebastopol Center for the Arts on June 24 and 25. There’s still a couple spaces if you’re interested! For more information visit my website.