Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sumac, Crocosmia, The Works

A dear artist friend and I have a difficult time getting together often enough to having a sketching date. Sometimes we meet in Port Townsend, which is roughly halfway between her and myself. It's about an hour and a half, give or take a ferry ride, for each of us to get there. Today, she suggested we have a sketch date simultaneously at 10 AM, where she was hiking near her end, and I decided I would go out on my deck and capture some of our garden before the approaching Fall season rewrites the garden's story altogether.  We each pulled our gear out and went to work.

 I have to admit, she had the advantage as far as scenery and solitude. I also had intermittent mist. I struggled with color and paint over the pre-textured background I chose to paint this over, and ended up with half my studio out on the deck. Mine was not as serene and gentle. It was starting to feel like a major project, and indeed it was by the time I took refuge inside to finish it. But I'm happy with it, and do feel like she and I were together on a sketching date! Next time I will leave the house so I'm not so tempted to drag the whole artillery caboodle out from my studio.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Galatea's Gaze

Recently an inspired group of Urban Sketchers descended on downtown Port Townsend, Washington, and spread out to capture their unique view of the town. I marched a couple blocks over to sit just above and behind the Haller fountain, otherwise known as Galatea. Not only was her little bronze tush worthy of rendering on my sketchpad, but I needed to utilize a page with a prior blocked-in square I had pre-textured with diluted acrylic inks and Cling Wrap, a week earlier. This method has been really fun to do, with sketching over the "texture" later.  (See April 28th's "Papaya Woman")

It turned out the way I'd randomly placed the texture was a perfect mystical framework for the view Galatea watched, eternally. As though she could maybe leap into that window and make her way back to the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the edge of town.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Poppies At End Of Day

It's hard to describe how my focus has deepened and widened in recent months regarding my creativity. Particularly my way of painting and sketching. It's rather like the roots of my inspiration have finally broken through the crust of the earth, so to speak, and now draw nourishment from a deep zone there are no words for. Hopefully it will last awhile, and not leave me wondering what the hell happened to the Muse. At any rate, I'm having a great time, and I hope you all enjoy the result with me.

I'd come down to the studio this evening to fling paint and Gelli Plate print up a storm in my sketchbooks. But I got a glimpse of the poppy garden through the glass doors in the fading light, and just had to put them on a previously textured page of one of my books. Someone recently had advised this page would look really nice as a garden or woodland scene. And there you go. No coffee shops and Baristas for this verdant page!

Monday, June 5, 2017

New And Not So New Sketcher Friends

Though I'm not a coffee drinker, coffee shops are still one of my favorite places to sketch, especially with others. It was a particularly pleasant experience being invited to today's little sketch gathering at Hurricane Coffee Company in Sequim, WA, by my friend Gayle.  She and several of her artist friends I hadn't met yet, were joined by me and our mutual friend, Patty. 

I was delighted by the sharing of techniques, stories and tools today, something that has come to be for me the best part of gatherings like this. "Where did you buy that?" "How did you make that?" "Will you send me a link to that?" "I love that bag!" "Are you serious...just add WD40 to the paint?!"

We all come away all the richer for the encounter, our heads bursting with new ideas. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tuliary In Relief

This week's homework assignment was an opportunity to use one of my imaginary critters from last year, my Segmented Tuliary. This one was from a stencil I cut of the original sketch I'd painted and posted before of the little guy. Laying the stencil on this previously stained page in my mixed media journal, I squeegeed Liquitex Modeling Paste through the openings of the stencil, then carefully lifted it off, leaving the segmented relief of the Tuliary on the page. When dry (the next day), I sanded the raised critter with very fine sand paper and jewelry polishing papers. I re-stained the framed inner square around it, wiping the ink off the raised subject afterward. 

This one isn't iridescent, and maybe not so nocturnal as the last. But still a lot of fun to make!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Papaya Woman

I'm having such fun learning to layer colors, textures and patterns on watercolor paper and sketch journals with these acrylic inks and paints! This was a few lessons worth of layering. The red rectangle was done with a mouth atomizer through heavy plastic (gutter guard) mesh, masked off with tape. The little woman character was from a sketch I did, transferred to printmaking paper and then colored with leftover dabs of diluted ink. Her hat and sandals are painted with gold gesso. The white paint over fleur de lis patterned stencil will receive journaled story or notes later. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

An Old Family Artform

Digging through a box of family photos recently, I pulled out what felt like a small brick from under a stack of prints from the 1980s. It was a carved, wood-mounted linoleum block for printing I had created around 1975. The edges of the surface were slightly chipped here and there, but generally in fair shape. The image was an intertwined couple, seated on the floor. It took me back to memories of linoleum block carvings my mother and my older sister had done in the mid- to late-'50s, for printing on cards or as indelible identification inside the cover of books we owned. I had done some in my teens, also, and then in my twenties, in the '70s. It was an art form I hadn't continued again.

Coincidentally, a neighbor friend had gathered with other mutual friends to share recently the linoleum block carving techniques the neighbor had learned at a workshop in Canada. I was disappointed I was going to miss the gathering, and was determined to get back some of that block-printing mojo anyway. Another friend heard me express this interest and directed me toward an online class teacher in Lino Block Printing, Tracey Fletcher King. I will be eternally grateful to that friend, as I am enjoying the class, and have learned how linoleum carving tools, materials and techniques have evolved since the 1970s! Don't you just love when things fall together like that?

The prints above are Shaman Woman and Shaman Man artist proofs. Some of my homework from Tracey's classy class. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Red Dog Blue Dog (Effective Muse Traps)

It's been a relief to read from many of the Facebook artist friends I have around the world that my Mystery Of The Missing Muse symptoms aren't unique. It's been painful to be in the studio when she's not there. I settle into the normal routine. The paints, pencils and pens surround me, my favorite Gregorian chants on the CD player, a cup of tea at the ready standby (but not too close to the paint water jar). Birds attacking the bird feeder outside my window like it was the last day before a nuclear winter. All those perfect conditions. After an hour of shuffling collage papers and organizing my paints....crickets. Not a whisper from the Muse. Paper looks like paper. Watercolors look like stuff in tubes. Or a mess on a palette. No magic. 

My dear friend Linda and I have been in long conversations regarding Muse Traps, recently. What to do to tempt the Muse into getting involved again. We've pretty much agreed Ms. "M" doesn't like formality much. She's a sucker for play and novelty. She is a kid in her essence, and quite seductive.  This is why she is so often found in the company of children. I remember that. As scary as my mom or the elementary school principal was, their authority was outranked by the whisperings of the Muse. 

What would a kid do in my studio shoes? I brought down the metal lunch pail I keep my stamping sheets and pads in from the supply shelf. I found recently that these intricately patterned rubber sheets meant for impressing Precious Metal Clay jewelry (you can find them on, they have small and larger ones) were perfect for stamping ink. And they are wide enough for some serious (oops, sorry, Ms. M) playful applications. And if I take a sheet of paper towel and carefully tear an opening out of the middle and use as a template to stamp through onto my sketchpad or watercolor paper, I can do multiple images that afterward lend themselves to all kinds of fun and embellishment.

Ms. M is leaning against the door frame of the studio, pretending she's not stealing glances at my stamping fun. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Just Let Go

This morning my husband and I watched out the kitchen window, bemused, while a small squirrel wore itself to a frazzle, defending the hanging new birdfeeder from hungry birds, who flocked from all zones of the frozen forest to restore the calories their little bodies had used up getting through the night. Squirrel can’t even stop and enjoy the seed, as there are so many others who are waiting to take it from him. His poor little brain is scorched from the worry and vigilance and anger. Because Squirrel had become bolder in recent months in asking us to donate to its well-being, to the point it was nearly underfoot as we walked up and down our porch stairs (we did little to encourage this behavior), the squirrel regarded anything we offered Nature as it’s own personal stash. An intelligent and self-serving little bugger, Squirrel had a longer range plan in mind for it’s getting through the cold months. Most seed it gathered was put into the ground as soon as possible. The various branches of The First Savings Bank of Mulch.  This is a tactic that has served squirrels quite well for millennia, I am sure. And not being tribal creatures by nature, their nature is to take care of themselves. Period. Sharing the wealth is not an option. Their future is not the wellbeing of community, their future is stored seed at a time when there is no food, and snow and ice cover everything. 

And so Squirrel has no alternative, with this artificially-provided container of seed, than to chase off all the other creatures that want to share from it also. For Squirrel, this container of seed is likely all that will be, ever. Squirrel can’t remember that somehow, there was always a fresh container of food that magically appeared. Every day. Squirrel can't even reflect on the forest being heavy with fir cones, full of seeds. Faced with accumulated wealth, Squirrel is also faced with the fear it can be taken away.

Squirrel is not evolved enough to have a Faith.