Muse art

Reflection in the mirror

Each day lately I learn more about what it means to have black skin in this world. It seems more important than ever to have eyes and ears open, and to take an honest look at what is reflected back in the mirror.

As I was finishing this piece I ran across a cache of small mirrors I had bought many years ago when teaching a workshop where we sketched parts of ourself seen in the mirror. I realized that I needed to put myself into the picture, but also to invite us all in to see ourselves reflected back in the truth of the images.

The trick was to get my reflection as I was taking the picture with my cell phone! It took a good ten minutes of gyrations to pull it off. Finally I was able to at least get a corner of me.

manyvoices

Credit here to my husband Bob who is always wowing me with his printmaking. I was in his studio lately, and was looking with such greedy eyes at his gelli prints, that he let me walk away with some unfinished ones, with his blessing to do with them what I wished. Lucky lady! The rest here is collage, stick dipped in inks and the mirror.

This Garden’s Wild!

Every day I pull a few weeds in the garden. Sometimes for as long as an hour, but rarely beyond that. The spring garden is for dreaming and not just laboring. Painting is sometimes for dreaming too, especially now when we need a break from the monotony of sheltering at home.

When I want to do a seasonal painting that isn’t a sketch or landscape “painting”  of some scene before me, I start with textures, like acrylic mediums that have dried on the paper. Then I start squirting inks and spritzing them and watch what happens. If I use greens and pinks, I know I’ll get something suggesting the spring garden, and if I use iridescent inks. . .well, here’s what can happen.

gardenoffairies

gesso and mica flake textured w/c paper with inks and chicken feathers (fluff)

This garden’s a bit wild

the way I like it.

One might run into Oberon

King of the fairies

or his wife Tatiana

I imagine she’ll be wearing a gauzy gown

with a dandelion fluff border

and her hair spun with spider thread

I’ll ride a lizard’s back into the undergrowth

where insects and birds lay their eggs.

or hop on a swallowtail butterfly

for the ride of my life!

When the wind sneezes

on that big pink puff,

I’ll hitch a ride on a seedpod

and ride it to the fairy kingdom.

 

Earth on Tilt

OK, so the earth is seriously on tilt. Wouldn’t you agree? I’m finding this to be a particularly fruitful time for contemplation, and I don’t just mean the specifics of how we will get life back to “normal”, whatever that was. Sometimes that means plunging in for a peak at the darkness. But then I recommend taking a piece of paper and your paints with you as a companion.

earthontilt

inks, gesso, collage, pen on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

It’s all flowing downstream, but at some point starts to back up.

The Doctors get called in to treat the damage.

The epidemiologists sound the alarm. Chaos ensues.

What the global warming crisis has not yet demanded,

This microscopic virus now  accomplishes, bringing everything. . .to a . . . halt.

Sit up and pay attention, It declares.

The earth’s axis is on tilt and you’re sliding off.

You may have a chance, if you sit still in your chair at home, for months.

Pull in your feet. The jagged teeth of this monster threaten.

And you elders beware!

Count your days.

Breathe deep.

If you can.

I read this to some Muse friends and they gasped a bit and were silent. If that is your reaction, I recommend one of those comedy clips you find on Facebook or Youtube to clear the palate.

I find that one of the most effective ways to navigate each day is to open the mind and heart to the tragedies playing out, and then to clear the palate with humor and a massive serving of natural wonder. (that and good food and music and. . .fill in the blanks)

Sheltering

As I closed up my studio last night I thought that I had let another day end without completing the various art projects I have going. Common enough. Then I remembered that there are no longer appointments, gatherings, events, classes to compete with my free art making time, and I added this to a growing list of much needed silver linings in these anxious times.

Yesterday I got out a pile of unfinished Muse Group demos, hand made papers and more and started putting things together. There was something about the “leftover” shape of the blue piece below that suggested house so I made it more so, but not overly literal, and here’s what came.

shelter

Powdered graphite patterned textures, acrylic and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11

What would you find if you pried the roof off any house now?  No, no, best not do that!

Come up to the door and knock softly. Carry a rose to show you care.

Be ready to say “Your lawn is so beautiful and green, your landscaping so artful, your windows so cozy.” Be ready to say “hope all is well with your family.”

Be ready to step back as the door gets closed in your face because you stepped too close.

Go back to your own Place and don’t cry. The people who loved you before still will, but only if you keep your 6 feet, or is it 10 now?

A friend brought her laundry over yesterday to use our machines. We managed a clever hygenicly safe protocol dance to protect both sides from the virus which, most likely, neither of us has, but we suppose could have. Then we stood a good 15 feet apart to chat for a while before moving on with our days. I’m sure others are as curious as I about how other people are coping, hence the desire to “pry off the roof”.

piles

A peek here at the unfinished pile of mixed media work from which I drew to create the piece above. I just measured the pile at 4 inches tall. It’s really a gold mine from which I shall continue to extract gems. The serendipity of the raw occurences ends up being the most satisfying to me.

If you’re a mixed media artist you doubtless have hoarded treasures galore. Now is truly our chance to play with them, and to realize that we may actually be afforded lots of time now to do so. And it costs nothing.

Stay tuned for another video lesson.

Plea to the Wise One

Sometimes I think we all need a shaman to set us straight. Here’s the one who appeared to me this week.shamanladyMuse Group demo: acrylic inks on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

What are your dreams catching today? besides me, that is, in an awkward sprawl with one foot in your world and the other mired in this one. Would that potion in your bag help? Can I catch your secret in in my own dream catcher mitt?  Can we sway together to the rhythm of your chants, and go hunting together in moonlight?

 

Mixed Media workshops this fall!

There’s always ideas percolating for mixed media lessons I’d like to teach in my Monday Muse Group and weekend workshops. For instance, inspired by Gustav Klimt, whose gilded paintings will be shown this fall in an exhibition at the Legion of Honor in S.F., we’ll be working with metallics. . .then a simple form of monotype printing and the very popular “stick painting” where we make expressive mark beginnings with carved sticks. . .then exploring color transparencies to get that eye saturating sense of depth.

If any of these interest you, you may want to reserve your spot in either the weekly Muse Group in my studio or the weekend workshop at Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Here’s the scoop!

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At this writing there are two spots left in the Monday Afternoon group. For more info and to register visit my website.

And if you like a whole weekend to develop your paintings, the following workshop may appeal.

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For more information and to register contact me. I hope to be painting with you this fall!

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.

sharp

(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.

Flood Musings

I hope you are safe and dry. I spent the afternoon in my studio trying to stay simple while feeling the need to put words down along with paint. The Muse arrived, no doubt by boat. The sirens have been real and each time I’ve said a prayer for those who needed to call for rescue.

escape

acrylic, Sumi ink, photo and screen collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

(photo art borrowed from Bob Cornelis)

There really is no escape, when you’re fed up with the weather, politics, your health, or yourself. You can try to sneak away, but then there’s the hook that snatches you back. The invisible link that handcuffs you to your life. Sets you back into another revolution of same-old-ness.

But it’s storming now, the pineapple express has pulled into our station, and the sirens scream out “floods!” You’re washing away downstream to somewhere new. Not where you thought you’d be, but somewhere new. And it’s OK.  Maybe you’ll get it right this time.