An Artist's Quest

Latest

My Own Personal Game of Thrones

I was out at our house in the redwoods this week for a little respite and of course with home ownership come chores. There are some things that must be done and my ongoing battle with three fierce enemies is a summer ritual. My battle for dominance is akin to the Game of Thrones series.  For those of you unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, there are multiple competing forces all vying to rule a fantasy world. I can’t really keep track of who’s who most of the time; and there really doesn’t seem to be a clear good guy, but there are clearly bad guys….any how, I took on my annual battle with the forces of nature like Khaleesi fighting the despicable slavery lords. My three opponents are these: One- the wily Poison Oak, clever at disguising itself – it can be a shrub, a vine and often likes to hide among other plants lying in wait to spread it’s itch inducing oils. Two- the spiny Blackberry, armed from leaf to root with thorns and able to amass a great, vast, impenetrable army of shrubbery to defend itself. Three- Scotch Broom, an invasive species that shoots up everywhere, really everywhere, like the Zombie White Walkers in the afore mentioned fantasy world; and left unchecked can take over a hillside in a year or two. So those are my enemies, and while the weapon of a hoe is honorable and effective, it is no match for these voracious foes. Don’t hate me for bringing out the big guns, Round Up and a two-gallon hand pump sprayer is my bazooka, or to keep the Game of Thrones metaphor going the Round Up is akin Daenerys Targaryen’s mighty flying dragons defending her territory from all comers. Fingers crossed I have kept my rivals at bay for another year, but never fear, season 12 is just one rainy winter and sunny spring away.

266.still life with roundup

From my sketchbook Still life with Round Up was done out on our summer deck after my epic battle, a gin and tonic close at hand!

No Plans…a Hard Thing for a PRE-crastinator

265.gelli print collage

This collage in my Art Journal is the result of a morning of monoprint madness

I’m a pre-crastinator – that’s not a typo – I am the opposite of a pro-crastinator. This has its pluses and minuses. When you are a pre-crastinator like me you are always prepared and you always have a plan, and lots of times that is a great way to be. It can cause anxiety when a plan isn’t forming with others in my life or when I don’t have all the pieces together to get everything done. In terms teaching it is great because I always have the materials all set, my lesson plans printed, demos made hand outs ready etc all well before the class. But sometimes in art making, pre-crastination can block inspiration in the moment. So because of my proclivity for control I have forced myself to loosen up by working in mediums that have a life of their own. One that I have been re-exploring is mono-printing.

Mono-printing is where you ink up a plate (traditionally it was metal but I use a soft rubbery plate called a Gelli plate) then you create texture and interest with a variety of techniques. I have been using a tiny 4×6 inch gelli plate and creating a bunch of small prints in a color or textural theme. The size and the ease of the printing helps me break out of the plan and lets my inner pre-crastinator take a break. It’s easy to experiment and make 20 wee prints in a couple of hours. I have been printing on rice paper, tissue paper and book pages to great effect and when I’m done I have a stash pile of papers to play with – NO PLANNING REQUIRED!

Above is an example of play date I had with my gelli plate not too long ago. I took those pieces and cut them up to create this collage in my art journal. Pretty cool –right?

I guess the lesson is that it’s good to push up against your nature – your inner urges a little bit and make them uncomfortable, sometimes, something wonderful will come of it.

265b.gelli print collage

this collage uses more mono-prints printed on old letters, phone book and journal pages

PS. I’m teaching a Gelli print to Collage class and an Encaustic Collage class at Pokey Bolton’s Craft Napa event in January 2018 here is a link to info and registration. Sometime in July I’ll  post my fall 2017-2018 teaching line up for The Bishop’s Ranch – I hope I can meet you at one of those classes where you’ll meet my pre-crastinator self and maybe my inspirational pro-crastinator will come along for the ride too.

Opps

I just realized I jumped the gun on my Stencil Girl link. My post doesn’t go live until June 15th…. So check them out NOW but remember to go back on the 15th to see my Stencilgirl Talk. My Etsy Shop is ready to go so click on through to see all the new work…. Oh yeah and don’t forget to breathe…

B8x10a

Check out this painting and more at my Etsy Shop

Seeing in Double & Triple & …. the Joy of Working in Multiples

264.group2

painting in my latest BREATHE series

Hello dear readers, I promised I would get back to blogging more regularly and here I am! I’m excited to be the guest blogger for Stencil Girl stencils this week and I want you to check it out at stencilgirl talk. They gave me 4 stencils of my choice from their vast collection and asked me to cut loose and produce. The post walks you through all the steps of making my latest expressive paintings – not a surprise I revisited a theme that keeps popping up in my work – BREATHE.

When I’m working on these expressive paintings I like to have a whole bunch of canvases and wood panels to work on at one time. I think that frees me up to experiment more with pattern and color combinations so no one piece gets too precious. I really can “mess it up” because if I do I just add another layer and push the composition to a place I like, if it doesn’t work – no worries I have 10 other canvases that I am experimenting on. This time I used my stencil girl stencils for pattern then cut my own stencils for the figure and the lotus to create my focal point. I have made that stencil in 3 sizes so I can experiment with scale and repetition. I am happy with what I came up with.

264.group2

a sampling of paintings now available in my Etsy shop

I just posted all these paintings on my Etsy Shop. I have painting in these series and others for small 6×8” pieces for $20 up to 18×24” pieces for $275 and everything in between. I hope you’ll check out my shop and see detail photos of this entire series and my guest blogger post on Stencil Girl Talk to see all the steps in making the work.

Until next time – be well.

The Big Shuffle…and Where Have I Been All These Months?

Hello faithful blog followers it has been awhile since my last confession! I know it seems that I dropped off the face of the earth but here I am and in new digs! I moved, and when I say I moved I really moved every object of my family self and artist self. But let’s back up a minute. First for those of you worried that I have left The Bishop’s Ranch, have no fear I am still here but everything old is new again.

263.home

The house my family and I have lived in at The Bishop’s Ranch for 21 years is right in the middle of the retreat center – and when I say center it truly is between the two main gathering places here – the chapel and the dining hall. Over the years as the size and frequency of groups here increased it became less and less private and harder to find refuge and respite in our own home. So a change was proposed. Kip Cottage, a lodge at the bottom of the hill on the edge of the grounds, was underutilized but needed a lot of love and work. The Casita, our house, was to much in the fray so a proposal was made for us to move to Kip and for the Casita to become the new bigger, brighter, art Center! This is a big win-win for me, I get a more private quiet home and a bigger, better studio and art center to create art and teach classes.

So that is the Big Shuffle part of the title and what about the Where Have I been part you say? Well starting in February we began the tear out at Kip Cottage – carpet, old tiles, old fixtures, kitchen counters… you get the idea. Then came the build up refinishing kitchen cabinets, new windows, painting, flooring, book shelf building and on and on. My husband and I did as much of the work as we could to save the Ranch money and get the place just how we wanted it. After 4 months we moved into our new home. I am super proud of how it came out and love being down here out of the flow.

263.studio 3sm image

Moving one thing meant moving another so last week I moved my studio into my old house – now dubbed the Casita Creative Art Center! My old bedroom is now my studio and the living-room is the classroom space. Since I moved in I’ve lead 3 workshops in the new space including these happy faces from my 5-month offering, Mixed Media Monthly- Thanks ladies for kicking off a new identity for the Casita!

263.workshop

I am recommitting myself to the blog and you dear readers – so I promise to check in soon!

The Presence of Absence Revisted

buttercupprints

Buttercup prints

I went for a hike along the trails here at The Bishop’s Ranch yesterday morning. The sun was bright and warm, tempered by a brisk spring wind. As I walked through the heirloom apple orchard the nearly century old trees, twisted and bedraggled with dead branches, persisted in blooming, they resist the urge each year to give in to winter and choose instead, with what energy they have, to embrace spring. Thanks to the abundant winter rains this year the trees are surrounded by carpet of green dotted with delicate, bright yellow buttercups. As I bent down to pick a few a sweet memory flooded through – forty-five years or more ago I bent to pick these same buttercups. That day I stood in a meadow with my sister. The meadow had a little creek that ran through it and housed two fat ponies and a burro. While they grazed idly by we picked buttercups. We picked buttercups not by the handful but by the armful. We truly filled buckets with buttercups to bring to the house. We filled every nook and cranny with buttercup bouquets.

negitive and ghost -buttercups

Left is the negative space print from around the buttercups on the right is the ghost print

Yesterday I brought my bundle of buttercups to my studio. I am preparing for a mixed media nature journaling class I’m teaching in May here at the Ranch (class info). I have been experimenting with printing organic objects. So I inked up my printing plate and placed my buttercups down, laid the paper on and rubbed. When the print is lifted what showed is the negative space around the buttercup. Then I gently peeled up the buttercups and made what is called a ghost print of what was left behind under the buttercups. I found these negative space prints and their ghosts to contain a simple quiet beauty and while I was making them I began to think of my father who passed away last fall. I have been working on a slide show for the celebration of life we are having for him next weekend. While I have done the best to find images of him throughout is life from birth to death, to somehow encapsulate who he was in one slide show, I know is folly. There are gaps of course, missing pieces things he loved not captured in film, people whom he loved and loved him not pictured. The gaps and missing pieces in this slide show are like the negative space buttercup prints- they depict the presence of absence the space around the life. And like the ghost prints it is just a whisper of the vibrant life he led. I am grateful that his memory comes to me in many ways through photos and celebrations, and quiet buttercup prints reminding me to leave space for the presence of absence.

Making LOVE (it’s not what you think)

262-ral

Love note we made at the first monthly meeting of Open Heart Studio troop #1. Laminated and with strings ready to put anonymously into the world to promote love and peace one person at a time!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the uncivil discourse in our country and the world that seems to be filling our newspapers, our social media, and our inboxes.  But we all know in reality we are more alike than different, we want to give and receive love, we want our family and friends to be safe, happy and whole.  You know that’s about it really when you come down to it, and I think almost everyone could agree to that.  So what has been rolling around in my mind is how to get that message out? I decided showing love and building community through art is what I know so last week I launched this-

OPEN HEART STUDIO troop #1Promoting civil discourse one LOVE letter at a time.

This is what I sent out to my local friends:

Mission:  To reveal our common humanity via Random Acts of Love, through the vehicle of art.  No politics, no religion, just a common need to receive and give love.

What: Make a love collage on one side of a 4×6 card, write a simple note such as “YOU ARE LOVED, pass it on”, laminate the card add a string on top  place them randomly and anonymously in the world.  That’s it!

Short Term Goal: To brainstorm the idea with you and make some love notes and send them out in the world.

Long Term Goal:  Meet monthly to make collage cards and set them loose in the world.  Encourage others to start their own OPEN HEART STUDIO troops.

Dreams: To have a mobile Open Heart Studio van filled with collage items and everything needed to make a R.A.L. card…go to scout meetings, schools, churches, synagogs, mosques, town meetings, have a booth at farmers markets, a stand outside of Congress, at the U.N.….oh yeah and achieve world peace!

262-ral-b

Inaugural meeting of Open Heart Studio troop #1 –  thanks to Kate, Sonia and Jack for joining me on a rainy Thursday night to MAKE LOVE happen!

I don’t have a facebook page or a website or any of that right now just an idea and a hope for a more loving, accepting, helpful, peaceful world. I will keep you posted on my progress.  Maybe you want to start your own Open Heart Studio troop. Yours can be troop # 2!