muse groups

Post Apocalypse Self Portrait

Still no rain here in the north San Francisco BAY area, but we’ve just weathered another apocalyptic fire. Everyone’s talking about it – how to prepare for the next one. . .we all believe there will be the next. . .or how to get out of Dodge and go somewhere there will be no environmental disasters. And where is that elusive Shangri La?

It seemed like a good time to pull out the old zany self portrait lesson in Muse Group. To avoid having to look at ourselves in the mirror and trying to draw ourselves, we just clowned in front of the computer to capture our very own comic strip character and went about painting and collaging the marvelous emotional entanglement that is our lives at the moment. Just that. Nothing deep and analytic or prophetic. Just one in an infinitude of selves we carry around all the time.

Here’s what popped out on my paper this time.

bay

Collage on acrylic painted background with a Photo Booth Comic Strip-filtered selfie.

Post Apocalypse Self Portrait

Aargh! What a place to call home.

So beautiful it makes your heart ache

so treacherous…… it makes your heart ache.

I want to move and I can’t bear to.

I want to stay and grow old – er, but can I bear it?

the fires the floods and heaven forbid the earthquakes

But the bees and butterflies, they stay

as do the birds

and our cats

and the flowers and trees bloom and fruit each year

and. . .

we will not leave

War of the Splatters!

There are days when it feels like the wars “out in the world” are being waged internally as well. Those are the days to make splatter art with friends!

That’s what happened in my Muse Group on Monday as we took the lead from the irresistible Ralph Steadman, a Welsh illustrator who uses splatters and other ink irregularities to create irreverent mythical creatures. We started the class by watching this video. I recommend this as a great way to loosen up, lighten up and have a chuckle to avoid taking yourself too seriously and ruining all the fun.

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So we loaded up our brushes and mouth atomizers and splattered and sprayed, trying not to lob one on each other. . .

war!

And there was the war of the critters!

By the end of class the room had filled up with colorful, zany critters. Who knew all those creatures were just lying in wait to be liberated by a bunch of mixed media painters!

See some earlier Steadman inspired work here and here.

Mixed Media Workshop next month

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This is the incubation time between Muse Group sessions when new mixed media lesson ideas are swirling around in my mind. I always bring back some of the ones we’ve been enjoying over the years, like crinkled Masa paper and smoke painting, but the seasons change and suggest new possibilities. El Dia de los Muertos is coming up soon. . .hmmm.

There are still a couple openings in this October’s session. Want to join us? Please visit my website for more info and to register.

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.

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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?

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!)