muse group

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.

Phoenix Rising

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.

acrylic on w/c paper

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?

RBG

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.

black gesso, w/c portrait, fabric collage and gel pen on w/c paper

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.

And now, what will life after RBG bring?  

Fences

When life seems to be turned on its ear, as it has with this pandemic, I cling to this practice of expressive art like a life raft. The process of making the art takes precedence over the accomplishment of a masterful outcome. The intuition about what materials and tools to use takes precedence over any kind of well thought out plan or design. The sensation of mark making becomes more important than the mark made. I try to dive in and not come up for air too quickly.

Of course this leads to questions about how to finish. So in this piece even my idea of adding the hands didn’t quite finish it. The blue reminded me of the bluebird couple that sits on the corner of the roof we can see from our dining room table. So I painted one of them and collaged it on. . .then needed the eggs. And finally as I wrote, even a garden scene like this turned out to be about the pandemic. . .in a helpful way.bluebird

acrylic inks, gel pen, drawn with a stick, splattered and scumbled on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

We try new ways to live with each other,

with masks and gloves and zooms,

The same fences that keep us in

are those that keep us out.

Nature topples those barriers we make,

finds a way around or between them,

Its winds dry our lonely tears

and sun warms our tender hearts

Birds share their freedom of air travel

without passport, mask, or elaborate protocol.

Inks and Gesso: Another Free Lesson

Ready to try another free Muse Group lesson?! I’ve taught this one over and over for at least 12 years now. It’s a foolproof way to get excited about making art and to activate creative fancy. You’ll need watercolor paper, inks (preferably with droppers), gesso, and optional: scrapers, rollers, and rubber stamps.

inks_gesso

Click here to watch the video demo. But don’t stop there. Give it a try!

 

The Muses

We all have a Muse, whether we know it or not. And I have at least 7 or 8 all the time these days! They come to my studio out in the country bearing bags filled with art supplies. They let me share a mixed media technique and give them full permission to make it their own.

And my goodness but they do! Each person’s piece reflects her own Muse style. We are often in awe of each other and the way the creative energy flows through us. So I wanted to share some of the students’ work from the last series of Tuesday afternoon classes of lessons like fabric collage, color mixing and more.MusePat

Muse Pat

MuseMuriel

Muse Muriel

MuseRuthMuse Ruth

MusePamelaMuse Pamela

MuseBrigitte

Muse Brigitte

MuseNyna

Muse Nyna

MuseNancy

Muse Nancy

MuseJudy

Muse Judy

Of course now we are all in Shelter in Place mode, but trying to continue making art on our own and sharing it on the internet. It’s not easy.

This morning I wrote out all the art activities I want to engage in, both to keep myself sane and to build skills. I sketched buds in my garden and my car for a drawing challenge on the S.F. Urban Sketchers meet up, and I played with my new Fude fountain pen. It got me out in the glorious spring garden where everything is coming to life and nothing reminds me of a virus.

And then I listened to the evening news and realized that the art was not frivolous time-filling activity. It has become an essential activity almost up there with hand washing!

A Regatta in Fabric Collage

The students in Tuesday afternoon’s Muse Group arrive early and unpack their paints and brushes and start enjoying each other’s company. We are mostly women of a certain age. An age of experience, of wisdom one might say. And sometimes the conversation veers in the direction of age itself, which we are mightily involved in understanding. After all, aren’t we all, at any age trying to figure out what exactly it means to be 20 or 30 or 50 or 70?

At my age  the discussion revolves around the question of “how much longer”? Small wonder then that issues around this very question arose as I worked on finishing my demo for the fabric collage lesson.

regatta

fabric and paper collage, stamping on acrylic monoprint, 10 X 11″

A regatta of tombstones. Jump on and they’ll carry you downstream. On your merry way you will pass the others, the ones who have already passed. But don’t worry. They don’t mean to frighten, though they are a gentle reminder to wake up, enjoy the river’s currents, the flowers along the banks, the flags waving in the breeze. This regatta is not really a race, but don’t dally in the reeds. There’s not much time left for this journey.

Another note I must add. The delightful KQED Masterpiece Sanditon episode I watched on Sunday involved a regatta. That’s all it took for black and white striped ribbon cut outs to become flags and the blank white spaces to become a blue river!

Love is the Cure!

My gift to you on Valentine’s Day is Rumi and a painting inspired by his ecstatic poetry. First, the poem. . .

Love is the cure,

for your pain will keep giving birth to more pain

until your eyes constantly exhale love as effortlessly

as your body yields its scent.

loveisthecure

acrylic and collage and gel pens on acrylic textured w/c paper, 10 X 11″

In Muse Group this week we painted larger, on 1/2 sheets of watercolor paper (15X22″), in acrylic and then used cropping borders to find the painting “gems” within the borders. Some of us left the painting whole and others (like me) cut it up.

Here’s the painting before carving.

hearts1

Now I also have an assortment of interesting “remnants” to put together in another painting, which I may share. . . if and when it comes together.

Now enjoy your chocolate and whatever lovemaking of the emotional, carnal, and/or spiritual kind you have in mind for this lovely non-holiday.

Holiday Trees

We see the color red in the fall and the effect is of fall leaves or, in our case here in “fire country”, flames. But it’s December now and we are drenched from the atmospheric river and open door to storms from the ocean, and now red reminds us of. . .Santa!

I was thinking of the tree of life here, and later the words Christmas tree popped up unbidden. Recently I was giving a private lesson about ways to work with crinkled Masa paper. I painted on a sheet of water-soaked Masa paper which had been crinkled. And then made collage papers using the same method,  which I then used on the first piece after mounting it on watercolor paper.

The writing is a bit of fun. Take me seriously, but not too much!

flametree

Flame outside, flame inside, each making space for the other.

This world is made of positive and negative holding hands,

sometimes in secret cahoots.

Both want to be noticed,

forever in need of each other.

 

The painting wants to be noticed.

Every part wanting to tell her story.

 

Yet the artist can only think of how she has

yet again failed to make a masterpiece.

How can she be so shallow, when she promised herself

to be free, leaving behind judgments.

“But I wanted to scribble somewhere!” she whines,

ungrateful wretch that she is.