muse groups

Windows

I pulled out all my dry media materials last week for Muse Group; pencils of all sorts, pastels, crayons, charcoal. Lots of those things which I normally stay away from so my pieces don’t get all smudgey when I put them in the loose leaf books.

But there’s something so satisfying about delineating with texturey marks or coloring in, not to mention, smudging on purpose. I pulled out a piece I’d begun weeks ago, and then played around on it with a charcoal pencil.

handsup

acrylic, photo transfer by Bob Cornelis, collage, charcoal pencil on w/c paper

Windows have eyes on the world

Everywhere. Stand still and gaze out. Or

Stand outside. Pick a window that has movement beyond it. Now

You’re a peeping Tom, a busybody. So

Be discreet and tell yourself you’re just an artist, a storyteller,

A poet, a blogger looking for “material”.

Privacy no longer exists.

Perhaps it never did

For the artist.

Ah! such a one am I. Not a snoop by nature. But there’s something about looking closely at things, people, landscapes, animals – looking at the details – which leads to a growing fascination and a curiosity. And that leads to words and paragraphs.

Oh dear please. I am not a busybody, am I?

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The Three X’s

All over Amsterdam you see the image of three white x’s on a black stripe on a red background. One can’t help but wonder what it means. It looks a bit like a pirate flag. But since I was there I’ve learned that the X’s actually stand for St. Andrew’s crosses. St. Andrew was a fisherman who was martyred on an X-shaped cross in the 1st century AD, which is relevant to Amsterdam as the city’s symbol dates back to 1505 when it was a fishing town and all ships registered in Amsterdam flew this flag. (Thank you to a FB and Instagram friend for clarifying)

The only reason I bring this up now is that those X’s popped up in my art demo in Muse Group on Monday. The lesson was painting on a black painted surface. Interference paints are iridescents that only show up on a dark surface where they seem to throw the light around.

3xInterference acrylics and collage over black gesso coated w/c paper

Presenting. . . (drum roll) the three X’s!

Not as in X-out or don’t you dare, or wrong times 3

but as in, this is a riddle. . .

What happened when the 3 X’s went for a walk and suddenly found themselves on stage and had to act out a character?

Answer:

One was dressed in bright stripes and struck a fashion model pose

Another was in black and took a defiant stand

And the third shy one was in blue like the background and happy to blend in.

Which one were you?

Interestingly most of the Muse Group students agreed with me that they would prefer to be the one who blends in. But gosh, it’s fun to get a little bit of spotlight every now and then!

House of Dreams

I pulled out an older mixed media lesson for Muse Group this week – one of my favorites – “Building” a House of Dreams. The idea is that you don’t have to be an architect to build a house for your dreams, a temple or sanctuary, a place that feels just right. You can start out by picking materials and images that speak to you and allow some kind of structure to spontaneously evolve as you play with them on the two dimensional surface.

houseofdreams_travel

demo: black gesso, acrylic ink and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Small wonder that I found pictures from this harbor scene in Denmark, which echos that of Amsterdam where I’ll be next month for another International Urban Sketchers Symposium. Reminds me of Bergen, Norway where I lived and felt so at home for two years when I was 20-21. I’m not a good sailor and never could handle the North Sea, but the canals of Amsterdam have great appeal!

I started this piece by painting the paper with black gesso, which has good coverage and a lovely mat finish. The white spots I left were random, just to see if they could be useful later on. Some ended up looking like clouds? and the one in the center is an opportunity to let the imagination explore. Is it a daytime scene of the harbor and sea? a symbolic place of rest beyond the turbulence, or a dangerous rock that could sink a ship? What do you see there?

F Words

It was too hot for thinking straight that day, so I puttered in the studio and wrote about this new piece. Forgive the silliness. I should probably not even post, but then, why not. You can probably relate.

Fword

Acrylic inks, pencil, gesso, collage from an old alphabet book, etc.

F is for Fear that sends me running when someone points a Finger for even Flimsy reasons.

F is for Frozen –  on a day like today, the ice cubes in my tea for the second before they melt.

F is for Famous, which I may never be for more than a Fleeting day and certainly wouldn’t want to be for more than a Fortnight.

F is for Foremost, the thing I overlook when rushing into the Fray of the day.

F is for Fooey! and Fiddlesticks! and this F—-’n poem which may be headed for the Trash (which isn’t even an F word!)

 

 

 

Open to Spring?

Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Spring!

There’s no little ones here to go egg hunting with today and so I’ve been watching butterflies and following a vibrant buzzing to the bumblebee nest outside my studio wall. It’s actually a birdhouse that’s been taken over by nectar drunken bumblers. Yellow pollen is dripping down the outside, giving away their hideout. And there’s always at least one of them, tipsy and hanging out on the edge, with buddies just inside.

But I was inside for a bit too, and finished this piece from a lesson earlier in the month, adding words from today.

glassinepapercollage2

layers of acrylic inks and glassine papers with monoprints

Are the windows in my mind open to spring?

Can my animal heart relate to the heavy breath of blossoms and buzzing bumblers?

I was a bit overcome today with the warm scents, the rapidly unspooling ferns, the snowy cloud of apple blossoms, and the tapestry of weeds calling out to be pulled!

Ah Spring. Is your mind and heart open to it? It’s a very strong cocktail!

IMG_5256

I went back to take a picture for you, and the party had grown! Sounded like they were really getting down!glassinepapercollage1

Another one, with a tree theme, and lots of layers, collaged and painted.  I was shooting for golden light shining through the orchard and those birds, and maybe a yellow brick road for Dorothy to skip along with her friends and Toto.  But then there was this blaze ripping through the trees and across driveways. . .it’s hard to forget about that fire. . .

If you want to join us this spring and summer, for my mixed media workshop titled The Playful Muse, here’s the new dates, just published!

May 20, June 17, and July 15, 1:30-4:30 in my Sebastopol studio. (You can sign up for one or all three.)

4-week August Session: August 5-26

For more information and to register contact me.

 

 

The Muse Group Splatters

There’s nothing like an ink splatter to activate the imagination. Actually, now that I think of it, this approach birthed Imagine with Art, this blog that’s continued since 2006, and the Muse Groups I’ve been teaching for almost that long. Play around with inks and pretty soon you’ve got a story going, whether it’s the rorschachs or the drips and splatters.

And it’s fun too! In fact when we did the splatter lesson in Muse Group this week we were so totally engaged in what was happening on the paper that I thought we could really do several weeks of this. I can always tell when total engagement happens because you don’t see people staring blankly at the paper and wondering what to do next. (Well that did happen to me a few times, but I think maybe I was the only one.)

The suggestion was to use the splatter and possibly spraying with a mouth atomizer and then see if any creatures or other unsuspecting images appeared.

tangerinos

acrylic ink splatters, sprays, and lines drawn with dip pens on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

He was just minding his own business, doing his usual foraging for vegetarian fare, when they spotted him. . . the dive bombing Tangerinos. He had no time to flee before the first one landed on his back with a big wet splatt! It wasn’t so bad really, as it did smell rather tasty.

Later as he met up with his buddy bucks, they had fun teasing him about his edible “crown” that dripped down his cheeks.

And the creatures keep coming. . .

Squirrel

Actually the squirrel with the rather large proboscis at first seemed to be jumping over the moon, but when the gold paint made an uninvited appearance (and a few expletives came to mind!) the narrative changed. These creatures do have a mind of their own.

If you want to enjoy some more brilliant silliness with inks you might like this short video of Ralph Steadman, my latest art hero.