Thursday, December 18, 2014


Scraps of watercolor paper are a good start for building a page . . .

but then those parts needed some mortar, so modeling paste was added and scribed into . . .

color sprayed on while the medium was still wet . . .

the surface dry and sanded with an addition of some unintentional pearly white paint
(thought it was a matte white) . . .

more random scribbles with fine line black acrylic, blotted.
Ready for further exploration and rumination.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

evolution is not precious

Today's painting started a certain way. In the middle of change, in the muddle of doubt. It had been an interesting journey through VisualQuest, but I was in that . . . Place. You know, That Place where an artist isn't sure what to do. Looking at parts of a painting as being too Precious or wondering if it needs to be blotted out with gesso to start over again. So the artist freezes. Or better yet, let's the painting rest awhile. Maybe even puts it out of sight so that when it's back on the easel again certain directions (usually directly from an artist's Genius) are made clearly. The Puffin by the Horse's ear is a bit strange, isn't it, Dear? Perhaps we ought to change that. Yeah. She's right.

That's where I started. For too long (okay, days, at least), I felt the beings who surfaced in this painting were meant, not only to be there, but to stay. What an artist shaman learns is: No. They aren't always meant to stay. Sometimes, they need to move on. Big Horn Sheep ram, Reindeer doe and Puffin, even the creature I named Hokum, had their time on the canvas as Horse claimed the painting. In some ways, without them being there for even a few days, Horse might not have come into being at all. I might have thought (which thinking is not meant to be done here) that because I've always loved horses, Horse should be the natural choice. Then I'm painting from another place, not soul, but ego, and possibly creating an empty image of Horse. So, I let that thinking go, seeing the eyes of each figure first before they actually formed and became recognizable. Though I liked how this image was progressing, once the decision was made to flesh out these Spirit Horses, let the others go in love and layers of blue, black and white, I fell in love.

Evolution, I feel,  tosses some things out while retaining the core, the essence of a thing. Evolution in painting is more than progression. It is distillation, an Alchemy. One I'm still feeling my way through each time I'm at the easel or journal spread.

The painting at that Place . . .

Puffin disappears . . .

distilled and integrated.
A detail.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

making faces

Another day of layers and selfies. Yesterday's was created using the image I saw in the mirror. It's me and it's not me ~ and I seem to look . . . worried? Sad? The self portrait is an odd thing, broken down into parts and being objectified, but then there is something that surfaces. (Dare I say, another layer?) And so it's me and it's not me.

Today's image was drawn from a photo I cropped with a six inch circle cut out. The image was reduced to the profile ~ eyes, nose, mouth. What I get to notice when drawing from a photo are the mistakes I make. Mistakes in proportion and shape; mainly because I'd draw how I thought it looks rather than really looking. The line between the nose and upper lip is actually a little longer, for instance. What's also noticed is where I did pay attention; how the eye's color wasn't lost in shadow and the reflected light was actually a circle instead of the usual tiny dot I'd place near the pupil.

Such is the work of this God . . .

Self portraits on the layered pages.

Yesterday's worrisome look (not sure why).

Today, looking up and out ~ even though my lips are closer to my nose.

Monday, November 17, 2014


What can add depth to many creations is the building of layers. It's something being integrated more often in my work these days ~ usually in the journal pages where I can really make a royal mess . . .

This painting on the easel got hit with another layer today . . .
then I moved to the journal spread . . .

images, tissue paper and medical tape . . .

layers of mauve and orange . . .

and again . . .

then a final layer of Titan Buff with a spray of Titan White acrylic . . .

all set to go for images. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014


For my birthday this year, a dear friend gifted me a Frida Kahlo mirror. A lovely thing and I love Frida, but hadn't realized what use I might have for it until this past summer when I played with Lisa Cheney's The Savage Mirror in 21 Secrets. It was an interesting process, but I wasn't pleased with those initial results. That may have been due to my discomfort with drawing or photographing myself ~ a discomfort not exclusive to me. Since then, that has changed (incrementally) and I am more at home with the self portrait.

Looking at today's journal page spread I wanted to create this new face again ~ with a different mind, a new view. It is important for me to draw like me, but sometimes that requires borrowing from someone awhile. Certainly, I can't patent this process Lisa has created as my own, but I can borrow the ideas, play with them, get comfortable with them until my unique talents begin to emerge. Gotta start somewhere.

How handy to have that Frida Kahlo mirror! What I like about using this mirror is how it reduces the view of me. It is but a snippet of my face, just my eyes or only half of my visage showing. That alone reduces the anxiety of trying to sketch my own face. It's no longer My Face, but eyes, the curve of a cheek bone, hair brushed rakishly to one side. The image is reduced to shapes and lines and shadows. Safely contained in that mirrored circle.

Today's Savage Mirror Revisited felt more integrated. The journal may see more of these snippets of self in future as a result. It's all Play anyway.
My first attempt at The Savage Mirror this past summer.

The Frida Kahlo mirror and me.

And a detail.

Friday, November 14, 2014

playing with layers

When all else seem to have been done in the day ~ even the baking of banana nut muffins ~ I make my way to the studio to play with things printed on cloth using the inkjet printer and freezer paper. Bennie and I will have other uses for these printed items, but for this evening, they made their ways into a work in progress. It's only the beginning. These images will most likely disappear deeper into the textured layers as the painting evolves and, creatively speaking, that is as it should be. Evolution is not precious.
Of textured and layered beginnings . . .

because a roadrunner made an appearance in Journey. . .

and an Instagram of a medicine wheel.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

settling in

Pumpkin soup has been simmering awhile on the stove. The weather is doing what weather does this time of year ~ generally misbehaving, kicking leaves and branches around, knocking over chairs and tables left in the yard, umbrellas have gone missing . . . And why should we expect anything other than this? These are the first days of winter, darkening days, cold nights, chickens avoiding frost bite.

There are a great many things I could miss about easier weather. The long days in the yard or by the lake, grass between the toes, flowers to name a few, however, the onset of winter holds a different flavor for me. That turning in, getting cozy, times of a fireplace lit, spinning and knitting. I still manage to get outside no matter what most days to tend the flock or just to get out. Fresh air and ground 'neath the feet (despite the footwear) are an artist's soul food. A cold snap does a fine job of getting the gray cells going.

And so pumpkin soup with a dollop of sour cream sprinkled with pumpkin seeds for dinner then my attentions turn toward a more tactile creativity of spinning and knitting. (There is an awful lot of spinning to do. Grumpy bags of fleece and processed wool glare at me from a studio corner.) The knitting plan is based on this lovely pattern from Knitty. What I like about it so far is its flexibility and all based on one's gauge. Any yarn can be used for this pattern once a gauge swatch has been knit up. I rarely ever bother with gauge so this is a small challenge for me, but one I'm willing to manage as there will, hopefully, be a better fitting cardigan once done. Hand spun has been selected ~ brown alpaca and blue-green mohair blends. I'm thinking panels of alternating colors as it's a sideways knit. See how it goes. I've already done the gauge work, I think I've earned a little knitting recklessness otherwise.

Now. What is on TV tonight? I've a mind to knit!

All set to knit!

Bennie tried her hand (and feet) at weaving with the ol' LeClerc Fannie today.
She basically finished off the saori I've had on the beam for a couple of years now and is rather eager to warp the loom again.
Now, in fact.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

not so pretty

There are mornings I like Morning Pages ~ there's actually some revelation that occurs. This morning, for instance I wrote about the latest visage created for Radiant Faces:

The last creation reminds me of a sketch I did in Junior High School. I was very proud of it. Oh wait, it was earlier than that: Fifth Grade, Mrs. Miller. I was proud of it until Mrs. Miller said something in response to my innocent Fifth Grade query: Isn't she pretty? No, she said. Flat and honest. Remembering that image now, I can recall that perhaps she wasn't "pretty" in that upturned nose cutesy-girl manner. Alright, she wasn't pretty, but she did have character ~ a dark dress, vaguely Victorian or Edwardian, dark ringlets on either side of this horse-faced woman's visage. I doubt I ever showed Mrs Miller my art again. What other way might she have delivered her response? I don't find her pretty, but she has interesting eyes and I like what you did with the hair. Mrs. Miller was more interested in smiting down Pride. Hence, the simple No. (I call back Pride from that experience!) The image I created with Christy Tomlinson's lesson is unusual, exotic, feminine but not girly. At first, I wasn't pleased with the results, but she is growing on me. Is she pretty? No. She is, however, fetching in her muliebrity. I find her engaging.

It is odd how this image reminds me of one created so long ago and the similarities. It's as if a drawing resurrected itself to fix a thing from that time or at least, show some new perspective in it. Not let that Inner Fifth Grader be crushed by such responses to her creations. And it shuts up my Inner Critic as well. All in all a good day.

Reinvented from a creative past.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

my gods are in the details

After the paint has been brushed and sprayed and dripped, once a form has emerged from the chaos, I become eager, champing at the bit, to dive deep into some tedious details. When I get to this point in a painting it's serious Slow Down Time, Kairos. I'm especially keen on adding patterns ~ lines, shapes, spirals, swirls ~ nothing big or rough. Care and precision are called for in working the Details. White or light colored paints are a favorite, sometimes even if the background colors are nearly as white or light. I want you to get real close to the canvas and really see. See the brush strokes and how imperfect they are, see how many of them make a shape . . . like cells that make up a heart or eye or brain. So. Details.

I'll often cruise TanglePatterns for inspiration. Housed in this site are links to other sites that demonstrate how Zentangles are drawn. Of course, it's a small challenge to tear myself away from the computer to actually paint. A lot of it is eye candy. I try to work from some bit of memory and only do a quick search if I'm feeling a little lost. Otherwise, time at the easel is lost.

During the Kairos time, my Muse, my Genius is there with me and when I step back from the canvas I am sometimes amazed.

A mudra with beginnings of details . . .

While playing with white paint and tangles, this gel medium transfer spent time setting on the next painting.
We hold our breath hoping for a good image . . .

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

sometimes I win stuff

Through Julie Gibbons site, I won a seat in Radiant Faces hosted by Effy Wild. The teacher line-up is prodigious ~ Julie Gibbons (of course), Jane Davenport, Tamara Laporte, Dina Wakely, Joanne Sharpe to name a few. So it is a real treat to have gotten in, learn new techniques, see how others grapple the hazards of face creating, find my own way of drawing (again ~ I used to know a lot more in High School). This morning, I jumped in with both feet as soon as the course opened.

As much as I liked this image, it simply wasn't
translating well.
I started the process with one face, that of a nun standing in a convent garden gazing at a flower. (I seem to have a thing for nuns lately. I've recently finished Mary Sharatt's book on Hildegard of Bingen.) The absorbed countenance is what stopped my search as well as the hand holding the flower. However, the course is about faces not hands and as my sketching progressed, I was less and less happy with the direction it was all going.

Gibson Girls have always held a certain fascination for me. I remember copying from a book years ago (probably High School) the serene visage and seductively piled hair of many a Gibson Girl. I turned the page on the nun and started over. Rather glad I did as I am much happier with the result. All free-hand, by the way, not my usual graphite transfer.

Much happier with the Gibson Girl sketch!

The finished spread in my own style.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


One day while playing with gel medium transfer in the journal, an idea presented itself (loosely, comfortably barefooted and silent) ~ Why not include a gel medium transfer on one of the intuitive paintings? That thought entered my mind three weeks ago. I finally got around to trying the process today. A medicine wheel photo (one of my own) was chosen and printed on inkjet and then gel medium was laid down on the canvas. The inkjet image was placed face down on the gel medium area and gently rubbed down, smoothing out bubbles, but not so hard as to smoosh the medium. Now, normally, when I'm executing a gel medium transfer on paper, the pressed inkjet image can be raised almost immediately, leaving mostly image and not so much paper. However, because the canvas with acrylic paint on it is slicker, the gel medium had to be dried before removing the inkjet image. It means more paper is left behind, but it can be gently worked off, layer by layer, with water sprayed on the area to wet the pulp and rubbing away the residue. Again, not too vigorously as the image itself will be rubbed away. The result is ephemeral. For this big hand painting, it is a contrast from the bold black lines. There will be more painting happening in the next few days (barring a variety of occurrences) which means even this transfer may change drastically. We'll just have to see how the painting feels.
This hand painting received the gel medium transfer of a medicine wheel photo taken some time ago which included an egg and some oak leaves.

Some of the ephemeral details moving in closer . . .

and yet closer.
In the meantime, I needed to move this body. She had been too long languorous and sedentary ~ afternoon naps to Northern Exposure in The Cocoon, too much time at the computer, too much sitting in general. It was a time of too much Headology. Ah, so yoga asanas then a gentle walk down the hill. I was on My Road for today as suggested here by Theodora Goss. Holy, holy, holy! Healing in Nature. It is my soul's balm, soothing jagged thoughts, smoothing over the ragged emotions. Such are the things of autumn.

A perfect day for an autumnal stroll.

Hat full of sky . . .
(Hat tip to Sir Terry Pratchett.)

the "ducklings" waiting in the yard for more food . . .

and Duke showing his unfettered tail feathers.

This tree was a fine companion in a place I lived temporarily. An old beech on a historic site. I can only imagine the history she has seen. This beech was a comfort to me in hard times and now she is dying. Such are the things of autumn.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

day before school

The special activity before going to school, being herded from room to room, gazing longingly out windows at trees still green ~ go for a sketch crawl hike. Along the lake, over rocks and fallen trees to sit and sketch a little something nearby. Note to self: finish the watercolors on site. Memory fails painting moss. On the way back, the hike became an exercise in recording and attempting to identify plants. One of which, Woodland Nettle, was accidentally bumped into with irritating results. Then there was showing Bennie a medicine wheel created over twenty years ago. No one but me would know it was there. In fact, in "creating" it, there wasn't a rock I had to move ~ four were waiting exactly at the directional points. Though a tree had fallen over a portion of it, my daughter complimented my choice of Sacred Space. "You can hardly tell it's here," she said. I smiled. That's the point. Lesson over.

Woodland nettle (Laportea cadensis)

Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana)

Maple-leaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens)

With an oak tree in the North, a medicine wheel that had become my Sacred Space many years ago.
It was a nice visit.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Knitted and waiting.
The shifting tides of creativity have taken hold. Though a paint brush may be poised over pristine paper, I can feel the pull of playing with fiber. Not so much in summer or even spring, but as end of summer glides in silent but sure, these hands want to feel a good hank of fiber becoming something else. Diving into knitting with the idea of making Nothing ~ nothing that would be worn, nothing that would be utilitarian, nothing that would normally make sense for a knitted thing ~ is a process of play. Plenty of times in creating a hanging, I'll scroll through hundreds of stitch patterns for just the right feel. Chunky, slubby yarns do fine in simple knit stitch patterns while thin-cored and halo'd yarns scream for something lacy. And I might start out with those patterns making plenty of mistakes. I let the mistakes stay. They are a part of the process. As is changing my mind about the stitch pattern. It is a liberating form of knitting because it doesn't need to be technically perfect or fit anyone. It just is.

Lyn Belisle's lovely clay faces and feathers collected.

So during my lazy prime time TV viewing, this knitted piece was started and finished. She is now stitched on to a drift wood stick and we're trying on faces. One masculine, the other feminine to represent Perkunas and Zemyna respectively. See, in this vision, I caught the tail of an idea how Earth needed (and still needs) electricity, the Zap from the Heavens, in order to create. I remember hearing of some creation story, set in a laboratory, of scientific-minded folk playing with some primordial ooze and a little electricity creating life forms. It's a creation story from my mother. (Some get The Garden of Eden, I got The Lab. It worked for my practical, heretical mind at the time.) Though I don't know how accurate the Creation Story is, it's as good as any given in any other culture at any other time. It is the inspiration for this piece and so I choose carefully. Sometimes, elements will sit for awhile, let them germinate, get to know each other, before continuing. It's where we're at right now. Which means I have time to paint!

Faces getting to know each other.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

iconic me

An easy day all in all. Flock fed at a reasonable hour. Paperwork sorting itself out by simply not being present for most of the day. A quiet phone. A candle lit, some space smudged, create. Today's creation focused on painting another self-portrait for Spectrum. Numinous Jane's course guides one through their own journey of creating a portrait as an icon. (And this is where the gold leaf comes in.) A favorite method of "drawing" myself is to make a graphite/carbon transfer from a photo. I like drawing as much as the next drawing sort of person, but knowing my limitations and impatience, it works out better this way. Trust me. The proportions are (photographically) correct, it rather looks like me instead of a perception of me ~ once it's on the paper, I can get to the business of painting and other bits of fun. I used paper that had been craftily scorched creating an interesting effect for the image intended, painted in acrylics and then added the gold leaf before coating the background with matte medium and a little Turquoise high-flow acrylic. Having a nifty big circle punch, I created big circles from the left over paint papers, one of which wanted to be included in the image. I'm pleased with the results.

Now. Who's going to make dinner?

Porcelain skin and pearls.
Better than PhotoShopping.