muse group

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!

Zephyr

acrylic monotype plus. . . collage, etc. on w/c paper 10 X 11′

Zephyr

Soft gentle breeze blows  

Takes me along

Disorganizes

Blows particles of thoughts 

Dandelion puffs 

In bird territory

 

Zephyr with no mind 

No thought to enact 

But air-borne sky-borne cloud-borne

In a great rush to gather

Assemble and sweep up

Stand up now and see 

Where that spring zephyr has borne you

Don’t be afraid 

Your gentle breeze will explain later

Studio Celebration

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.

Daler Rowney acrylic inks, gesso, w/c pencil on 10 X 11″ w/c

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!

Muse Jane

Muse Jan

Muse Ineke

Four Muses

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!

Thank you Muses!

Pieces of Me

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!

inks, acrylics, foil and paper collage

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.

Invitation to Hatch

inks and gesso, collage, brown paper, rice papers, on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

laying an egg

a red earth one yet up high

where the view is better

freshly lain and soon to become

the offspring of a week of plunging

back into a well seasoned life

an invitation to do more hatching back

In the north country

where paints wait to be unpacked

birds to be watched

and a new world cracked open

Thank You Muses!

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. 

Muse Group Reunion

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!

More San Franciso and back to Sebastopol!

pen and watercolor in 5X8″ Canson Mixed Media sketchbook

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!

Kay’s garden in Monte Rio on the Russian River

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!

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!

Escape?

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.