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.
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!
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!
One of the things I love about collage is the cutting up of papers. You get a lot of interesting pieces. And then you sit down and try to figure out how they can all fit together in a pleasing, or at least uniquely interesting way. Unlike real life, that is, where the pieces don’t always fit together or get lost in the process. With collage you can say “OK, I’m finished with this now.” and then wonder what it means. There’s never just one answer, so you pick one!
When I look at this earth
I see pieces of me
When I look at myself
I see pieces of earth
I’ve been sticking my hands in the dirt every time I go outside lately, pulling weeds mostly, but also finding buds and bugs to examine closely. I believe the creatures in my garden, down to the microscopic ones are my relations, otherwise why would I seek the feel of soil on my hands, and feel my heart slow down and breath deepen?
The nature sanctuary outside my dining room window has been evolving. I got dizzy watching the squirrel swing on the suet feeder up side down while eating, and I set up a proper picnic table for squirrels and bunnies, with corn and sunflower seeds. Now I can have lunch with them sometimes. Their manners are not always so fine, with the exception of this cottontail.
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.
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!
Another busy day in San Francisco started out with meeting my urban sketch friends for a ride across the Bay on BART to the Ferry Building, where I have sketched several times before. (see previous sketches here) It was a Saturday and it felt like a good portion of city was out to enjoy the culinary delights and bayside views. It reminded me a lot of Pike Place market in Seattle with its crush of humanity! Multiple live music, horns, screeching brakes, every type of public and private transportation converging in this one block area of one of the most fascinating cities in the world. And all under beautiful sunny skies.
I planted myself in the traffic island, listening to the crooner nearby with his medley of S.F. love songs, enjoying conversation with my sketch friends whom I’ve missed, and then tried to settle down for some sketching. The Jesus Saves guy was just one of the many colorful characters in view!
And there she was again! The young violinist from the deYoung parking lot again (in the center with the yellow hat), and this time with her fellow musicians. I quickly set up my sketch stool and got ready to sketch, just as they played their last notes and packed up to leave. Aargh! This may be another one to do from a picture, though it’s always more engaging to absorb the live music experience in the sketch.
The Chinese New Year parade was next on the day’s schedule. I’ve attended other urban sketcher meet ups for this event over the years, and it’s one of my favorite with unbeatable color and human vitality. (see past year sketches here and here The groups of adults and children of all ages assemble colorfully on Market Street in preparation for the parade.
By the time I got there my energy reserves had depleted, so this was done later from a picture I took!
The next four days I was on my old familiar turf in Sebastopol and the Russian River, which is always a bit of heaven in the early spring. A long lunch in the garden of Kay’s home on the River, watching her flock of “designer” chickens that produce a rainbow of different colored eggs.
marveling all over again at the bountiful lemons and the pottery studio overflowing with treasures. There was too much to catch up on with kay and Liz and lots of eating, so no sketching happened that day!
The temperatures were plunging, but not so much that a walk on the beach wasn’t possible, with a little bundling up against the wind. Bodega Bay is often windy and a bit chilly. Not your southern California year round beach, though there was a surfer out that day enjoying the waves. But a long clean stretch of beach with abundant birdlife and radiant sun. Ahhh!
It sometimes feels redundant to sketch on the beach, like I’m copying the art that is already so abundant there in the form of seaweed and shells and undulating sands. So I just gathered up some dried seaweed in an expression of how I felt about this part of our planet and about my week of revisiting.
Next, one last thing to share from my week in California – a Muse Group reunion with inspired artmaking which I will post soon!
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.
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!
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.
The archetype of the phoenix is particularly appealing to those of us in what is officially now known as “fire country”. So it’s no wonder that when I was clearing out old paintings and moving pieces of them to my collage piles, I looked deeply into one and found the suggestion of a baby phoenix.
Have you felt the whisper soft breath of the baby phoenix as it rises from the smoke and ashes?
They say its tears can heal wounds and cure infections. (Viruses too.)
Peer into the smoke, and you may see it rising from its own ashes.
Can you see it? Can you hear its muted cry?
Are you ready to feed and protect it and help it grow strong enough to redeem us all?
As I contemplated how I would memorialize the most inspiring woman of my lifetime, I read the words of eulogy spoken and written by so many other voices of our times. I watched the videos about her life and experienced the same heartbreaking loss as others who revered her. And I wondered if democracy may have died with Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
And then I opted for a bit of everything I like: painting a watercolor portrait, adding lace fabric collars (since the prompt I’d given my Muse friends this week was fabric collage!) and those words of praise she so richly deserved.