muse group

Busy Season

Is your garden growing an inch a day now? or at least the weeds? Mine is. And spring projects, long promised are begging for attention. In Muse Group this week we made monoprints with our acrylic paints, using stone paper for a plate. (More about Stone Paper here. )My first “pull” was a vibrant one that turned into a story for this time of year.

dreamingofapples

the earth is busy sprouting

so here I dream of apples

of birds darting and swooping

on spring’s many errands

 

yet still

there are only buds

plumping up to make pink popcorn

and seduce butterflies

The plum tree has bloomed and leafed out. The weeping cherry, beneath which my mother’s ashes lie, has just bloomed. And I wait expectantly for the apple blossoms whose sweet nectar is an invitation to the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, that lay their eggs on the vine, so that I may daily visit the hungry munching caterpillars with the orange polka dots. Simple pleasures of spring I must make time for.

Advertisements

Many Cooks

Sometimes many cooks can spoil the broth, but not always. We started off the new Muse Group series with a brand new (recently dreamed up) lesson called “Pass the Painting”. It’s a cross between a party game and group mixed media painting experience, an exercise in freedom of expression without excessive ego baggage.

It’s a way to warm up and relax into intuitive painting (mix media style) where you use the following ingredients in layers, like a layered party dip:  black ink, gesso (black or white), image collage, tissue/rice paper collage, acrylic paint (color!), pattern collage, word, and free choice. You pass the paper to the person on the left after each addition.

In a group of eight artists, you finally end up with the painting you began, and it’s yours to keep. Each pass lasts 5-10 minutes and you have total permission to mess up the painting with what you do, (even though you’re hoping to improve it) You will most certainly fail sometimes, but no one but you will know, and you won’t have time to care, because you will pass it on and someone else will have to deal with it. How cool is that?!

I fully expected that there would be some groans, but was delighted by the positive response, and even motivated to share the results. Each of the following pieces contains a contribution by the same eight artists, of which I am but one.

manycooks5

manycooks2

manycooks1

manycooks6

manycooks3

manycooks7

manycooks4

manycooks9

Although this adventure was supposed to be about freeing oneself from ego, we ended by patting ourselves on our back(s) with pride for how it turned out!

Sfumato, Fumage, Smoke Painting

Whatever you call it, it happens when you touch a flame to paper, just enough to let a ghost of ashy, charcoal-y gray/black touch the paper. It’s hard to stop once you get started.

You can fix it with acrylic spray, workable fixative, and then paint over. You can take an eraser and remove it in places, as I did with the teardrop shapes here. You can burn the edges of the paper or even burn wholes in the middle. But watch out! The firebug may take over.

smoke1

candle smoke, collage, stainless steel acrylic, screen and paper collage on w/c paper

Smoke alarms! The embers dance a crazy dance of not caring.

It is so very thrilling, this dance of life and death.

But only when you are perched on the high wire

Or immediately after when you’ve survived and can see that your feet are still there,

Hands still clutching each other.

You’ve just seen the spirits.

That will haunt you forever.

Expressive Drawing/Painting

We painters all need to get over ourselves and take a break from trying to get our paintings to “turn out”.  Every now and then anyway. So on a Monday when the class was small I moved the Muse Group out to the garden for some expressive drawing and painting with abandon and without technique or rules, on big paper and and holding the sticks, pencils, charcoal, and ink droppers loosely by the end, and in the stance of a matador, lunging forward and back. It was really too much fun!

Here’s a couple of mine.

expressive2

pencil, ink (dropper), watercolor crayon and gesso on 20X30″ paper

expressive1

When we’d run out of steam we brought our paintings inside and used mat board corners to see what abstract gems we’d unwittingly produced and were impressed with ourselves.

A few days later when I was in dire need of an art fix (I’ll spare you the details) I thought I would play around with “finishing” this one and see what it had to tell me. With some cutting and pasting and more paint the above painting became this. . .

expressive3

. . .and as I kept trying to make sense of it, a little demon slipped out!

The Self Critic puts her foot out to trip me.

Then as I fall, screams LOSER!

Aha! So the A is for A Loser!

I drew in the word Loser and knew I was done.

Do you know an artist who doesn’t feel like a loser sometimes?

 

Texture+Paint+Cut+Paste

Sometimes the greatest successes in mixed media painting are repurposed “experiments”.

We were doing the gesso texturing method called “decalcomanie” in Muse Group. Slather gesso on the paper, put another paper over it to “pull” the wet texture out to create a rough painting texture when dry. Then paint wetly over it.

shroomsr2 acrylic over gesso texture with collage on 10 X 11″ watercolor paper

A rush of golden energy punctuated with silver whisperings. It’s not time to lie down. This is the ‘shroom dance of spring, the spores rising and settling in a fine mist. It’s time now to wake early and watch the birthing of these golden days.

This painting was not the beginning. It started with various textures painted on two pieces of paper. The first (below) was a class demo/sampler of different acrylic textures, with pumice and sand and molding paste. It got very confused the more I tried to “finish” it.

shroomsrough

See what I mean? I liked the mushroom (‘shroom) theme and cut this painting up.

Can you find the mushroom (later modified somewhat) that landed in the first painting when this one (above) was cut to pieces?

shroomsr3

Now I have such an abundance of choices to collage into yet another painting in the series.

I also went through my collage file to find other elements that could be added.  Can’t wait to work on this some more. It’s an invitation to “build” another painting with the most interesting materials.

Health Benefits of Coffee!

Have you been reading about the recent studies on the health benefits of drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day?! Especially great for liver functioning – go figure! But also some of us have known for a while that coffee has some positive effects on our art making, which always leads to more general health benefits.

In Muse group we did a lesson this week using tea and coffee to stain papers, tea bags and to “paint”.

pileupcoffee splattered w/c paper with coffee soaked Masa paper and cheesecloth collage

It starts to pile up after a while, the shorn off pieces with holes in them. As we spin around in space our linings get worn and raggedy. Pieces of skin are rubbed off. New lines and cracks and brown blemishes appear. And still the moon shines brightly, more so perhaps as we realize we are better tuned, lighter, brighter, less encumbered than before.

One of the things I try to do in this group each session (of 6 or 8classes) is to inspire ourselves with the work of a particular artist. This lesson was inspired by Deborah Benioff Friedman, a SF Bay Area artist whose work many of us viewed in a recent exhibit at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. She uses tea bags and natural stains in her wall hung and sculptural work in inspired ways!

laundry

For years I’ve used tea and coffee stains to age papers and evoke historical contexts in mixed media works. This one also done on Monday is a bit more in the story-telling style I have often used. At times I’ve used pictures of my own ancestors in the mix. Here are a couple of them: My grandfather Lee Loffswold and his clan and my grandmother Selma Buskerud Loffswold’s family home.

To stain papers I soak them in extra strong tea and/of coffee and then dry them out in a 200 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Mmmm and they smell good too (if you like the tea/coffee flavor that is.)

Let me know if you want to join us in the next 8-week session of the Monday Muse Group starting March 19. There are still openings! Visit my website for more information.

Self Portrait in the Wild

My bird feeders are busy stations these days. There’s the mixed birdseed one, the Nyer seeds for the smallest birds and the blocks of suet laced with seeds and fruit. They swing with activity throughout the day. Oh and then there’s the hummingbird nectar as well. So small wonder that when we did the crazy self portrait lesson in Muse Group this week, my own went over to the feathered side, yet again.

netted

Photo of self at Photo Booth using Comic Strip filter, printed in black and white, cut and collaged onto w/c paper with other collage and paint, etc. etc.

I am captured, captivated, taken over by dreams of those feathered ones who have been whispering in my ears for years. I am captive to my earthbound ways, my rootedness and groping for stability. Though I fluff my hair and imagine wings stretching out, open, ready for flight, I never quite make it into the air, but stand and watch as my feathered relatives soar and dip and perhaps look down on me with compassion for my flightless state?

(Can you tell which eye is mine?) I’ve been teaching wacky self portraits in Muse Groups for years and it always gets us laughing! How different it is from what happens when you look in the mirror in the morning, trying to get your hair right while noticing some new puffiness or wrinkle.

In the next series of Monday Muse Groups which starts March 19 I’ll be teaching Smoke Painting, the esthetic of Wabi Sabi art featuring textures and patina, and painting with water shapes charged with pigment. There are still openings at this point, so I hope you’ll be able to join. For more information and to register visit my website.

Here’s an old video I made of student self portraits, which I’ve watched so many times with giggles.

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 5.27.40 PM