muse group

Ashes

Staying on the outskirts of the burned areas, not wanting to get in the way of recovery efforts, not wanting to see the devastation of our beautiful Santa Rosa neighborhoods, parks, vineyards. But the images are already burned into our minds and hearts.

ashes

Muse Group demo: acrylic, gesso, fabric collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Crow lands on a burnt out tree, ponders as he watches ash float down.

Nothing familiar here. In the ashes nothing looks the same, a world upended.

And yet, shapes of people’s lives, of things one time possessed, then not. Shards of things, zippers without the pants. Paper gone, words gone.

Yet in someone’s yard five miles away a restaurant menu piece floats to the ground and a bill as yet unpaid.

 

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Black and White and Mazes

Getting back to black and white occasionally is like clearing the palette from rich (color) food so that one can taste with clarity again. Ha! Well that sounds good anyway. We did a lesson this week in Muse Group of playing with black and white collaged patterns.

blkwhitecamouflageacrylic, collage, black gesso on 10 X 11″ w/c paper

There are ways to deal with mazes and blind alleys. Make it a game and jump in. Have some paint ball fun; play leap frog and roll down a grassy hill. Stir up some random cyclonic energy. Run round in a circle till you collapse, dizzy and spent and laughing. Do you want your life to play like a comedy or a tragedy?

This was a kind of puzzle I wanted to play with, combining an image of a maze or labyrinth (few of us knows the difference) with a dancing figure, engaging in a kind of hide and seek with aspects of camouflage. The discovery was how amazing these bright colors look on the black and white patterning. Something a bit Halloweeny about it, wouldn’t you say?

Back to Muse-ing!

Over the weekend I was busy cleaning and organizing my studio for the influx of Monday Muse Group students. It’s been a four month break in Muse Groups, possibly the longest break since I started teaching them nine or ten years ago! I’d forgotten how things get stirred up when I prepare. While dusting and sorting, my brain was suddenly popping with ideas and excitement and that feeling of nervous anticipation.  I know better than to try to get things all planned out. It’s more about clearing the way for the creative energy of a room full of people who are ready to break out and do something new.

artwall

One new feature in the studio is a wall dedicated to the experimental pieces which are lesson demos in the group. It’s a thin metal rod attached to the wall with tiny bulldog clips for the art.

The lesson for Monday was to use clear contact paper or artist tape as a masking method and then have fun squirting and splattering and smooshing inks. Then to peal off the contact paper or tape, with paint on it, and apply it as collage. I was dying to use my (unused) eclipse glasses in this piece, which turned out to be for all of you who missed the total solar eclipse or even the partial.

luna

Oh you Luna, you divine representative of the cosmos! You set up such a longing in me that day when you eclipsed the sun and left me out of your totality party. What happened as I watched (on my cell phone) the excitement across the country? Nothing here but overcast skies. We got stiffed! My special glasses remained unused. The sky kept its metallic blue gray color and as the minutes ticked by, my heart sank lower and lower. To be left out so cruelly! A cosmic snub. And so today I cut up my unused, never to be used, eclipse glasses and made up my own totality. Ha!

luna2

Here’s another recent example of masking and using the painted tape for collage. This one also follows the eclipse theme, as I found a place for the eclipse stamp I received from a student in the mail.

Rest, Retirement, Gardens

Sometimes I have to remind myself that we have gardens for more than weeding. In other words, it’s OK to simply sit outside and enjoy.

rest

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

Time for rest, on a cushion in the garden, draped with ferns and fragrant blooms, a pair of cooing doves and a lap full of purring cat. The weeds can wait another day. The plans for tomorrow, the latest world news, the emails, all of it can wait.

For now there’s those cushions. If you don’t try them out a bit each day, the cats soon will and your throne of rest will be usurped. Then how will all those lovely garden idles find their way into the art? So take a rest – it needn’t be for long.

This piece was actually a demo I did for a private art party/workshop held in my studio a couple weekends ago, something I offer from time to time with great delight! We had lunch under the trees on the patio and I didn’t pull a single weed!

retirement

Actually I was contemplating my husband who just retired June 2 and is learning to occupy a lounge chair outside while reading. At least he tried it for a couple days before getting all busy with his art again.

matilija

My own strategy for sitting still in the garden is to do a quick sketch. For me that counts as rest, even though I find it quite energizing.  But then I’m not retired, exactly. . .

Skeeter

When we were making collage papers in Muse Group by splattering National Geographics with Citrasolv concentrate, a spell binding creature appeared on a page. That was the impetus for this piece, combining ink, collage and acrylic. See if you can tell which material is which, or just take a look and let the creature weave its spell on you.

skeeter2

If I were a s’keeter the world might look like this, from second to second cracked open, taken apart and then put back together all new. I’d have to keep figuring it out, like a person with amnesia or short term memory loss. 

Would that really be so bad, every second a new world? or richly phantasmagoric.

Take a tip from these three

takeatip

Take a tip from these three, tripping the spring fandango

Get up and make some tracks in the soft wet earth or high on the wire

Join the avian gang twittering the day away

They won’t save those seeds for you

But they’ll let you fill their feeder

Take your lunch under their tree

Get all quiet and munch

Take a tip or two or three from these spring warblers

We got kind of stamp-happy this week with our acrylics and all kinds of stamping things: home-made, found, and purchased. At one point in Muse Group I went around and took some pictures. It is such a catalyst for creative work to see the materials all spread out and people diving in and making colorful marks and seeing the patterns evolving!

stamping4

When I saw what was happening on my paper palette (on the left) I decided to “steal” the idea from myself! I slathered on the paint and used a homemade soft linoleum stamp and cut out some paper I’d already stamped on.

stamping5 For these birds I used a hand-carved stamp made in India and then cut out the shapes to use in the painting above, adding more color later.

stamping3

Mary Ellen was rolling acrylic paint onto rubber shelf liner which you can find at the hardware store, then printing with it!

stamping2

Here Pat is making some wonderful collage paper for later use. Actually many of us wished we could have this design in a set of placemats!

stamping1 Experiment! Experiment! Experiment! It all made my creative tail wag! Carole’s were spread all over.

Early Spring Musings

Sometimes I just want to look at the blossoms and not remember the storms that brought us here. Look at the green and the lacy morning dew and imagine that this world is mine, as is, right now. Not just in process and needing to be weeded. Not because it all will soon enough disappear, torched by summer’s draught. But just because it is right now. . .mine.

Lookatthefruit

acrylic textures (molding pastes), acrylic inks and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

It is apple blossom season here in Sonoma County. You don’t want to blink and miss it! You don’t want to miss the butterflies fluttering through the garden, drinking apple blossom nectar, mating, and laying eggs on the pipevine. Gardening is a great excuse to be outside with hands in the dirt, and art making gravitates always to these spring colors and forms.

In Muse group we were playing with a wide variety of texture making tools and many of the acrylic mediums now on the market, from molding paste and crackle paste to gels with clear flakes and pumice. You could spend a fortune in the art store gathering up the various mediums to get texture. It’s what happens when you put fluid paint over them that excites me.

I’ll be teaching a weekend mixed media workshop June 24 and 25 where we’ll be using textures like these to achieve the light casting sparkle of Patina!  For more information and to register please visit my website.