muse groups

Transparent Overlays

I’m still catching up on Muse Group demos from June. I had promised in the last class that we would do image transfers, but realized that it’s better to have another week to work on them, since the technique can sometimes create some false starts. So instead we used transparent overlays.

This is a great technique to use when you’re not comfortable with your drawing skills but want to incorporate a drawn image into your painting surface. Trace the image you want onto a transparent overlay, which could be regular tracing paper, light-weight “rice paper” or Dura-lar (the acetate alternative).  Move it around on the painted surface til you find the sweet spot where the paint shows through to advantage and glue it down with gel medium.

The bird here was my tracing. The paper became transparent when the medium dried so the underpainting shows through.

senorita

acrylic inks, transparent image overlay and other collaged paper on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

This señorita keeps her song going all June long. Dresses herself in colors each day, strutting along the limb, doing the limb-o all warm and fluid like an island girl. She keeps one eye on me and wonders why I wear a long face some days, when there’s always a heady fragrance and new tune to dance to.

Come eat your lunch with me, she says. Pura vida! What could be so bad anyway?

Well, don’t get me started, little bird. Don’t you read the newspapers?!!

Nevertheless, I appreciate her concerns, and so I’ve taken to eating my lunch outside under the flight pattern of birds between the bird feeder and fountain where they bathe. It goes a long way to lifting those cares.

Advertisements

Mylar Fun

My mixed media Muse Group has ended now for the summer. I always miss my weekly dose of art play in the group. I say “play” but of course making art can also be serious business when you’re an adult. To combat that seriousness I try to introduce a new material or technique each time, one that is impossible to “control” so it throws a wild card into the pot. (I think that’s a mixed metaphor in my mixed media explanation here!)

One week last month that wild card was mylar, that shiny silvery mirror-like polyester film that can be bought in rolls. It’s not really for painting, which is why it’s a great mixed media surface to play around with when pushing the envelope. (Another strange metaphor?)

mylarcity

Acrylic painted Mylar collaged with painted screen on acrylic painted w/c paper, 10X11″

Entropy in the city. Everyone trying to keep their balls in the air simultaneously. How is it possible that the buildings remain standing and don’t come apart at the seams and float up, and towers lean over from the sheer weight of people at rush hour?

Q: Where are the cars and busses and pedestrians here?

A: Down below in the well-worn grooves.

I’m always in a state of amazement in big cities. I think I did this piece not long after my trip to Brooklyn.

By the way, if you’re interested in getting into the Muse Group, now is a good time. I just opened registration for a six-week Monday Afternoon group in my Sebastopol, California studio starting September 10. For more information and to register visit my website.

Plea to the Wise One

Sometimes I think we all need a shaman to set us straight. Here’s the one who appeared to me this week.shamanladyMuse Group demo: acrylic inks on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

What are your dreams catching today? besides me, that is, in an awkward sprawl with one foot in your world and the other mired in this one. Would that potion in your bag help? Can I catch your secret in in my own dream catcher mitt?  Can we sway together to the rhythm of your chants, and go hunting together in moonlight?

 

Travel on the Brain

I guess I have travel on the brain these days. Meaning that I’m thinking a lot about my trip to Portugal next month for the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto. I’m determined to be prepared for everything, which is of course impossible, but I’ll try anyway.

We started a new month-long session of the Muse Group this week, painting with water shapes and inks. And here’s what came of it for me.

travelspecsinks and collage on w/c paper, 11X10″

So you want to sell me a postcard? Thanks anyway. Sunglasses? you say. No, thanks anyway. Got my sketchbooks and paints, got my shades and backpack and travel umbrella and comfortable shoes. .  . but hey, will you pose for me? or better yet, tell me about yourself. Tell me something I will never get from a guidebook. Look into my eyes and let me see your lifetime of struggles and triumphs. Let me sit for a few moments and be with you. Soon enough I’ll fly off, but I won’t ever forget. Promise. (It will all be found in my sketch.)

It is hard to explain how this works, how the complete sensory experience of some moments in time gets stored in a sketch made at that time. Frankly it doesn’t even matter if the sketch is simple or poorly executed. Any travel sketcher will tell you that. It makes you realize that most of the time we’re living in our heads, not particularly noticing what is happening around us in the moment. And that translates into not having memories of those moments!

And we think we have such important things going on in our minds. Ha! (Sorry for the rant)

Back to the 30X30Direct Watercolor challenge next. Are you doing your watercolor-a-day? Need inspiration? check out these folks, Marc and Suhita.

 

 

Uprising of the Shrooms

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how this painting started. Somewhere at the beginning was a smoke painting that later got covered up, when the irresistible  mushroom shapes I’d rescued from another painting took over.

shroomrising

smoke, inks, acrylic, collage, acrylic texture on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

the uprising of the ‘shrooms from darkened earth

the lizards and voles and birds

even Phil the cat, in their nature shrine

have grown accustomed to the exotic air

spiced with herbs and decay

while we worship at our manmade temples

and hope for salvation there.

citadel

“The Citadel”, inks on acrylic gel coated w/c paper 10 X 11″

geltexture

inks, acrylics coarse pumice gel on gel coated w/c paper 10 X 11″

All of these are demos in the Monday Muse Group were we experiment with a myriad of mixed media materials and techniques! These last two were from a lesson where we started out with watercolor paper coated with three dry layers of gel medium. The surface becomes more slick so that the paint/ink does unexpected things!

Think you might want to join us? There is one spot left in the session that starts June 4 and runs weekly for the month of June. For more info and to register visit my website!

 

The Bouquets Continued. . .

On my visit to the Bouquets to Art exhibit at the De Young Museum last month, my eyes became saturated with the 120 stunning floral displays exhibited with the art they were responding to. I left with a voracious hunger for the floral image. Not surprisingly the fact that it is springtime here and everything that is not in bloom is swelling up with potential, has encouraged more bouquets of art.

homebouquet2

fountain pen and watercolor in Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook 5.5X8.5″

These Calla lilies, picked from my garden and placed in a lovely little ceramic vase. Not a very skilled arrangement to say the least. But the next morning I saw that I had created a most humble but appealing Bouquet to Art! And so I sketched it to add to the collection in my sketchbook.

homebouquet

In the living room with my painting “Alvus” in the background.

And then as we started a new Muse Group, we used some fun mixed media techniques to create. . .floral paintings of course!

redsbouquetLots of acrylic paint slathered and fingerpainted on and scraped back to a warm underlayer of paint.

secretrsafterrain

There should be a way to get inside spring. To walk around first, hop up and grab a stem or branch, and stand up on the rim of it. Look down, and then ??

Secrets are like that. They don’t reveal themselves easily. They wait in the dark, hide behind the flowers and let you get all woozy with the fragrance so you forget to look. Do you really, really want to know what’s there?

Hang out a bit longer, just another minute.  Oh no! There you go again, drifting off. Spring is like that. Those blossoms give no sure footing, especially after a drizzling rain.

Does this part of spring make you a bit woozy? Does it make you want to do everything all at once and then to just sit still, do nothing, breathe it in? We’ve been drenched in sunlight here, watching the apply blossoms pop and the clouds of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies drunkenly imbibing their blossom nectar brew, then swooping down to lay their almost invisible eggs on the vines.

Sgraffito

This word sgraffito is so Italian that I want to kiss my fingertips as I say it. It’s dictionary meaning is: a technique of ornamentation in which a surface layer of paint, plaster, slip, etc. is incised to reveal a ground of contrasting color.

sgrafitto1

fluid acrylic mixed with gloss medium, on gessoed w/c paper

For this demo I started with a few drops of green acrylic mixed with the gloss medium to make it more transparent. While it was wet I scraped (with a rubber color shaper) back to the white paper in undulating designs. When those green shapes were dry, I repeated those steps with the gold and red. The resulting design would make a lovely summer table cloth, don’t you think?

So for the next one I took on the challenge of staying simple while also going in the directions of a piece of art that has something, however modest, to say.

sgrafitto2

I used the same palette and sgraffito technique here with a touch of collage. It looked quite messy and gloppy. “So Bad It’s Good” but not really. As we always do in Muse Group, I did a free write which revealed the idea of the tropical bird, who flew in to take his perch afterward. He was very noisy, squawking into my ear “What’s your problem anyway?!”

Sgraffito is the technique you employ when you get that urge to scribble. You know, on those days when “Pretty” doesn’t feel right, and you’re a bit or a lot agitated?

In our Muse Group “laboratory” we discovered that it works best when you mix your fluid acrylics (just a few drops) with pouring medium or gloss medium because they are transparent and not as likely to glob up or get muddy.

So go for it. Sgraffito up a storm and maybe play some Italian opera to get in the mood.