An Artist's Quest

The Bishop’s Ranch

Peace Be Upon You

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It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged – I’ve been working hard to get ready for a solo show at the Mendocino Art Center.  I’m loving the work I’ve done for the show and I’ll share it with you through the next few weeks.

As many of you know I live up in Sonoma County in Northern California, I’m sure you couldn’t miss the news of horrible fires up here. I’m relived to let you know that  West of the Russian River where I am was unscathed.  The tension and fear pervaded the area and everyone in the area was touched in small and big ways by the devastation.  I painted this triptych during the week of the fires as my way to calm my nervous energy and direct the unknown into something I know how to do.  I know how to paint, so I painted.  It brought me peace to do the work and it is my small offering to those who have lost so much.

Peace Be Upon You

The Mendocino Art Center show begins November 1st through Thanksgiving. The opening is November 11th from 5-8pm. If you happen to live in Mendocino area or close by I hope you can come. Mendocino Art Center info

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Fruits of Our Labors- ANTICIPATION

Spring brings blossoms, summer brings fruit, and fall brings libations!

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From my art journal done this spring with the apple blossoms. I’ll do a “Still Life With Hard Cider” when the time comes.

Last weekend some friends invited us to help them pick and press apples. We picked pounds and pounds of apples, brought by the wheelbarrow full to the press. Then we washed and dropped the apples into a mechanical chopper. The chopped apples were then put into an old-fashioned crank juice press. We took turns washing, chopping and cranking – filling jugs of apple juice to freeze for drinking later. Then we juiced more, about 20 gallons more in fact. This juice is now bubbling and brewing and becoming hard cider. This process is way beyond my skills, I’m leaving it up to a master mixer, but since I volunteered to pick and press… this fall I’ll get to taste. Not bad pay!

I have a years worth of workshops lined up on the calendar go to my website to see what’s happening and how to sign up! http://lisathorpe.com/classes.html


No Plans…a Hard Thing for a PRE-crastinator

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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.

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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.


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

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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.

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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 Presence of Absence Revisted

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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.

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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)

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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!

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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!


Wrung Out and Hung Out to Dry

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“The Place Between Heaven & Earth” – mixed media painting from the Breathe series

I’ve been a bit wrung out these days, my to-do list just won’t get shorter, my sleep is off, the short days and early dark – you know what I mean – I’m out of whack, I’m in disequilibrium. So where the mind goes so goes the body and a few weeks ago I bent to zip my zipper or tie my shoe or something else innocuous – there was a loud pop in my neck and my range of motion stopped at about twenty-five degrees each way. Ok fine universe, I’ll do some stretching, etc and keep on going. Well let me tell you the universe did not abide, so last week after a regular teeth cleaning (nothing unusual) my jaw slipped out of gear just like the clutch going out in your car but this came with gnawing pain with every chew and my bite out of alignment….. OK, OK universe I get it – STOP – I added “take care of self” to my to-do list. There was a masseuse right here at the Ranch for the week – nothing was stopping me. So today (just hours ago in fact) I got an amazing massage!

I scheduled a 90-minute massage instead of just 60 minutes (a splurge I have never allowed myself), I told my masseuse of my woes and she got to work, she dug and pressed and smoothed every inch of me with her hot angel hands. While I was on the table an image of a strong, fierce, determined angel wringing out laundry along the Ganges came to mind. The masseuse was the angel, of course, and I the laundry, the pouring rain outside played the part of the mighty holy Ganges River. After almost 2 hours she left me – set out to dry in the tree branches along the riverbank. Neck is moving to 35 degrees each way now (not perfect – but better), jaw thinking about getting back to work (maybe a few more days). Thank you universe for reminding me to take care of myself – but next time can you just send me a text?

So here is your reminder before it’s too late- make time for yourself in the midst of your all your busy!

PS – Thanks Angel Anya for your strong hands and open heart!