Ralph Steadman

Last Night I Dreamed. . .

Last night I dreamed of a lizard, a beautiful black and white patterned one. In the dream I was quite excited to find it among some plants in my home. Because you see, when my boys were little, they were really into lizards, and especially a leopard gecko which Ben named Samon. His preschool art was filled with colorful geckos and our house chirped loudly with crickets that had escaped while trying to get them into the cage for Samon’s dinner. Our good friend Maureen, an accomplished photographer, posed Ben with Samon for her project on children and their pets.

photo by Maureen Morrison

So my delight at having a lizard appear in my dream is not a surprise, particularly at a time when I just published a book (for the family) titled The Cornelis Boys and Other Creatures. It’s a collection of stories about my sons’ early years, when I participated in endless expeditions to acquire a managerie of lizards, frogs, toads, caterpillars, butterflies, praying mantises and more. I became as enthralled as the boys with these creatures. 

But I was also delighted with the dream, because my Muse group sisters and I decided to explore the theme of spirit animals/creatures in our art. So today I got out my ink and got started with some Ralph Steadman style splatter to get the imagination opened up to the possibility of another lizard visitation. 

When finished I got out my reference book, Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small by Ted Andrews and looked up Lizard. Here’s what he wrote:

“Keynote: Subtlety of Perception. . .a symbolism associated with the psychic and the intuitive. The ability to  perceive subtle movement – physical and ethereal, waking or sleeping – is what lizard medicine teaches. To some within the Native American tradition, the lizard is associated with dreamtime. Dreams contain some of the subtlest perceptions of the mind of which we may not be conscious. . . listen to your own intuition over anyone else’s. Learning to follow your perceptions is what will enable you to succeed most frequently.”

Sounds like pretty good advise for anyone, whether you’re drawn to the reptile world or not!

I can’t resist leaving you with another lizard family picture, of my other son Andy and his brother Ben. There’s obviously some photoshop going on here, but I suspect not with the lizard! (oh yeah, and then there was the rat chapter. ..)

On the beach with Drew

We’ve spent a great many days of late trying to avoid excessive heat and smoke from the fires. So my son Andrew (alias Drew or Droob) and I headed out to Doran Beach in Bodega Bay mid week. The sky was hazy but the air smelled cleaned and it was strangely still on the beach. Even the birds on the bay side were immobile on the beach. We put up the umbrella even though the sun couldn’t quite make it through the haze.

And then we got out our sketchbooks. Drew is one of those people who draws from memory and imagination. It just flows off his pen unimpeded. Creatures of all kinds that come from a fertile imagination that tells visual stories of the most unimaginable and yet somehow recognizable sorts.

So I asked him to give me a prompt and I would try. He said no, that would be cheating (or something like that). So I offered what I thought might help me to get started on a creature. . .a Ralph Steadman style splatter beginning.

So that’s what we did, using my credit card sized watercolor palette and the water brush I’d brought to start splattering. And he was totally game. This is what he did in approximately 6 minutes.

(I thought it looked more like a worm, but he said it was a tongue.)

And here’s mine.

I think I must have been feeling a bit out of my element and it came out in the tipsy drawing.

Well, I told Drew he should do the Inktober challenge with me. You know, the annual 30-day- October-do-an-ink-drawing-a-day challenge. And he agreed! So I’ll be posting both of ours here. And maybe you’d like to join us!

Creepy Critters

This whole invisible virus thing is really creepy. I try not to entertain creepy thoughts,  but sometimes when I’m doing art they jump out onto the paper, especially when I’m splattering a la Ralph Steadman. On the paper they are harmless enough, even humorous.

This creepy critter came the day after I found a rather large spider in bed with me in the middle of the night. Ever since I’ve been pondering where he or she might have been hiding all this time. Gulp. This Covid virus is a lot like that, though I’m sure it’s not this “cute”. creepycritter

Acrylic, inks, gesso on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Don’t look at me that way! You think if you crouch low in the corner I won’t see what you’re hoarding. I can see what you’re up to, secretly spreading yourself all over. 

Scat! Shoo! Away with you! And take your gazillions of eggs (viral particles) with you!

To see more splatter art try this blog.

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.