Muse art

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.

 

Night Creatures

India ink, gesso, acrylic glaze and acrylic skin, white gel pen, collage

When you toss and turn and horrible 

Thoughts hold a parade in your mind

And sleep runs for the exit

Ask for advise from the night creatures

Say – Why do you like the night hours?

The answer will no doubt involve food.

So stop your fretting.

You like food too, right?

Get up and have a bowl of

Lift your spoon in a toast to

Those who know

The secret to happy thoughts

at night

Hoot! Hoot!

Pouring rivers of acrylic

It’s so easy to lose the spark of creation when you’re an artist who’s always trying to improve skills at your craft. For many years now I’ve engaged in this practice I call Conversations with the Muse. Periodically I peruse my archived books of lesson demos and experiments in radical eccentricity, and chose a mixed media entry point to launch myself into the realm of the bizarre which always lies beneath the surface of an otherwise socially appropriate personality. It just feels so freeing!

So this time I got a big bottle of Liquitex Pouring medium to mix with my fluid acrylics- four colors in little bottles – knowing that there is no point in trying to control the paint because it just keeps moving, and you’re along for the ride. And the characters emerged as they always do.

fluid acrylics mixed with Liquitex Pouring Medium on gesso coated hot press w/c paper

My hair’s been running wild lately

Or maybe it’s me. . .running . . .wild

Taking on the animal nature

The hair, a pelt or fur or mane

Think lions or horses or little pink ponies

Unicorns on little girls’ beds

Or think huddled under a blanket fort hideout

Made of pillows and the living room sofa

And two small children peeping out of the dark wide eyed

While their feet give them away

poured acrylics and collage with poured acrylic skins! and ink lines

Not much room for me here

No space to stretch out

Something might crack. 

Better to sit still

Not attract attention

But this heavy coat

I’m dying for a good scratch

 

If you want to try pouring acrylics, there are so many youtube videos to instruct, and here are some previous posts of mine that might help:

2019 https://susancornelis.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/a-lesson-in-pouring-acrylics/

2015 https://susancornelis.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/black/

2014 https://susancornelis.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/made-from-the-same-fabric/

Have fun watching the rivers flow! (I think my mind is still back on the white water in N.C.!)

The Fortune

watercolor, India ink, black gesso, collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Garden Lady beckons with sunshine and dark fragrant soil

Lures the mind with visions of baskets overflowing

Prods with reminders that you must PLAN and PLOW and PLANT!

But caution advised!

Consult your fortune cooky first to gain perspective.

     “Keep a level head.”

     “Watch what you say (and think)”

     “Wish upon a star tonight.”

(but watch what you wish tor)

     And:

“You were right the first time!”

                  Caution advised. An excess of over planning can lead to under performing.

Have you been planning your spring vegetable garden? We have. Maybe you’ve got it all figured out. But our first spring here in the northwest we are scrambling to learn what to expect, pouring over books and taking online courses and staring at our garden plot wondering. . .how ambitious should we get? 

Time to consult astrology, the iChing, Tarot cards, Celtic Runes, almanacs, and maybe even fortune cookies? Or just dive in, move the soil around, get the irrigation right, plant and see what grows!

Looking for a Soft Landing?

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. 

layers of inks, fluid acrylics, collage papers on w/c paper 10 X 11″

Looking for a soft landing?

On the way down through danger lands

Flying fragments of previously ordered lives

Upended

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

the floods, the wars, the sorrows.

Bring the comfort of memories

Until the pieces knit together again.

Your world is not made to stay intact forever

So fly high, fly free with eyes open inward where

there is always a place of peace

And no binoculars needed.

Dream Sofa

acrylic textures and paint, collage on w/c paper 10 X 11″

CREATE your dream sofa

and it’s got to be soft in all the right places, conforming

to the body that needs refuge in a mother’s

acceptance of all the natural

accumulated muscle throbs bone clashes sores weariness

one that naturally listens and accommodates

some evenings giving spine support and others

gobbling up the jutting sharpness of a day’s stress

tenderizing it without comment

without correction

without judgement

it’s time NOW for your dream sofa to hold

you with open arms open palms

soft fingers

Ahhhh!

Grandfather Bunny

Out in the side yard doing some garden trimming I suddenly came eye to eye and inches way from a bunny lying under cover of a plant I was about to trim. When he made no effort to move away. . .well, here’s the art and the story to go with it.

acrylic inks on w/c paper

Found in a tangle of lily fronds, eyes open and question posed in absolute stillness, “if I do nothing will she go away? But from my touching proximity, I knew those deep dark eyes that gazed at me would not spur action. You were waiting for that which my world is trying to escape. I restored your soft shell of leaves around you and was drawn to speak to you as that beloved wildness that I have wished to reclaim for these many years, way back into childhood, standing at its door, impeded by my human-ness.

And so I softly pleaded with you Grandfather Bunny to let me step across the threshold with you, to hop and nibble and land softly with grass stained flower fragrant belly onto the softest spot in the garden. For a few moments I was almost close enough, but could not interrupt your last minutes of life with my human gaze, even though my prayers were to spend time with you in a rabbit warren, in the path of deer and all manner of birds and bugs.

Perhaps you knew that and had already sent blessings back to me from the other side, when I found you an hour later, eyes closed and body left behind, not a scratch on it, and I brought you inside because it was darkening out and I was not ready to abandon you to nature’s hungry reclamation crew. . .yet.

Next day I located a resting place under a conifer, on the far side of the ancestral grove, and the hole dug, filled it first with love and then your perfect wild body.

And the day after I found a fresh hole in the earth above you. I wonder, did someone in your home team come to get you and take you home? Or did you find your way back out and beyond so that now you are munching clover in a sunny field somewhere. . . eternal.

Hardcore

The Muses back in Sebastopol met this week to work on self portraits together. Not wanting to miss out I braved the chaos of my garage studio and decided to take the easy way out, using an old lesson I taught many times.

Take a picture of yourself using the Comic Strip filter on the Photo Booth app (if you have it on your computer) and print it out in Black and White. Then carve it up, glue it onto the paper and have your paint/gesso/collage way with it. Add words.

paint, fabric, comic strip collage

 

Just give me a space to paint and

I’ll find a way

SOMEWHERE

      Between ceiling hooks and oil stained floor

There’s a place to thrive

      In a maze of U-haul boxes

      Partly opened and fully unorganized

SOMEWHERE there’s a place to paint

To cut and paste and draw and write

Because I’m hardcore. . .

Just help me find those scissors I left. . .

SOMEWHERE. . .

 

 Confusion is often the name of the game these days, but one thing is certain. It will be many more months before life settles again into some predictable rhythm, (and the ability to find the good scissors when you need them!) So I just bought myself a new pair. The girl in the picture is OK, even though the snakes on the head sometimes get a bit out of hand!

This is why it’s good to do a self portrait at regular intervals in order to check in on yourself, or to look back at earlier ones to see if things might have changed. Here’s one from May this year when the Sh”!t was really hitting the fan prior to moving!

The look on her face before leaping the chasm. . .

Stuck-in-the-Muck Postscript?

Life has been good here in Olympia AND I miss my friends back in Sonoma County and would love to be able to make art with my Muse Group sisters again. So I did! Spared myself a flight and just sat down to my art table at the same time they were meeting in person to play with wet-on-wet painting, something which we used to do a lot together. Then I got to see them on Facetime and pretend I was there in person. It did me a world of good.

After getting stuck in the muck while kayaking in Woodard Bay the week before, I wanted to make some muck with paint. You know, like a small child will do after it rains. I started out by dropping ink onto wetted shapes and watched the fantastic landscape shapes appear. Then I mixed in some gesso to make the muck with my fingers. Mmmmm.

acrylic inks, gesso, dip pen on w/c paper

I’m still trying to find my footing here in my new home. But aren’t we all? We are all walking on a swinging bridge!

Bunny bunny

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.

studio in the garage

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.

torn watercolor painting, cotton balls and bunny painting!

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!