Monday, February 29, 2016

No Fair!

Last year on my birthday, I reached the age of eligibility for Medicare. My sister Joany, born a mere 21 months after me, is celebrating her Sweet Sixteen birthday today on the last day of February 2016. No fair, I say!

I grabbed the scraps from my Valentine's Day project with Caroline and Emmy, and cut some hearts from what was left of Emmy's collage sheet. Folded a piece of card stock, collaged some tissue paper, drew some lines and doodles with ink, and softened some boldnesses with wax pastels.

Happy birthday, sweet sister of mine!

Sweet Sixteen
4x5", collage, ink, and wax pastel on card stock
[not for sale]

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Where the Wind Blows

Ordered an ounce of quinacridone gold paint a few days ago, and it arrived today.

A new color!

My current cruciform collages go where the wind blows.

quinacridone gold enters the mix

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Another Canvas, Another Cruciform

Lesson 3 in my Jane Davies composition class is still calling out to me to keep playing. So … another canvas, another cruciform.

Well, canvas paper, actually.

Oh, and more than one cruciform.

I'm off to the big city for the afternoon and evening so I teased a little time out of my morning for painting.

Davies and others often recommend working on more than one piece at a time and/or working in series, so I've set up four 4x4" substrates to play with. I started two this morning, each roughly a negative of the other. I had fun raiding our tool bench in the basement for a few items to use for making texture, and I resurrected the October edition of a community publication called The Villager from when I made art with Caroline and Emmy back in the fall, and used it as my source for collage paper.

off and running with new cruciform compositions
close-up, with preliminary textural elements

Friday, February 26, 2016

Flying Blind

I made reference a few days ago to needing an air traffic controller for the glut of art ideas circling around in my mind.

Ironically, once I get a paint brush in hand, not only do I take off and head right back up into the skies, but also I seem to like the tension of flying blind. As hard as it is to paint without "knowing how" or being in control—and believe me, it's usually way hard—something in me is deeply nourished by the challenge, by letting myself muck about and make mistakes and make discoveries and make beauty and make good on finding that nonverbal place of stillness within me from which to create.

Today, I went full throttle into uncharted skies—continued with yesterday's start by using tissue paper, brayer, nylon screen, wax pastels, oil pastels, ink—until I switched on the audio system and said to my painting, You have arrived at your destination. You can unfasten your seatbelt now and move about the cabin. Thanks for choosing Flying Blind Airlines.

Air Traffic Control Pattern
10.5x8", acrylic, collage, ink, and pastels on canvas paper

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Studio as Crucible

I start another cruciform collage today, taking to heart Jane Davies' encouragement to try a few small studies and then something larger. I'm not doing huge, but I'm working on paper four times larger than last time.

As a word that shares a root with cruciform, crucible comes to mind. Definition: a place or situation in which different elements interact to produce something new.

Well, no wonder it comes to mind.

My studio, this assignment—crucibles!

No idea where this piece will end up, when it will feel complete.

For now, different elements. Interactions. Something new, and something else, and something else.

Iterations thus far:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Air Traffic Control

I remember a trip between London and New York during my college years. Because of air traffic control complications my flight got rerouted to Bangor, Maine, where we sat on a runway for four hours until we were cleared to continue to Kennedy. Might have been in 1969 when about 500 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization stayed home "sick" causing air service interruptions.

I can appreciate air traffic controllers' demands for reasonable pay and decent working conditions. I have so many art ideas in the air circling my studio—it's a fearsome job keeping them all accounted for so they can land safely before they run out of fuel.

The leftovers of Emmy's and my collages from Valentine's Day have been in a holding pattern for ten days.

But Emmy's tidbits were cleared to land today!

I took a few paper hearts cut while in VA, cut a few new ones, and set about playing with them. Decided to continue my experiments with manila stock, wax and oil pastels, hairspray as fixative, and matte medium as both varnish and adhesive. Made another paper prayer.

On the back, these words from Rosellen Brown's novel Before and After:

I have friends 
so I can be 
with them; 
why bother? 

Paper Prayer 33
1.75x6.5", collage, ink, and pastels on manila stock
[not for sale]

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Crunching Out Cruciforms

Tried my hand at a second cruciform exercise.

I've been watching YouTube clips of other artists' at work, drinking in their sense of adventure and experimentation. As I worked on this piece, I rotated the canvas repeatedly to jolt myself into new perspectives throughout. I tried whatever came to mind. If I didn't like what landed on my canvas, I either wiped it off or covered it with something else. Since I don't have much in the way of stencils for texture I cut one of my own from the plastic lid of a yogurt container, and I opted to create texture through various doodles.

Here's what I was instructed to remember while working:

• The piece should NOT look like a Cross On Background. Make the transitions between positive and negative space gradual, interesting, ambiguous.
• Make each quadrant different in shape and proportion, and mix up the size and proportions of the arms of the cross.
• The cruciform shape should grab attention, while the quadrants hang back.
• Use multiple bits of collage and paint in the arms of the cross.
• Keep the cruciform on the vertical and horizontal; no exaggerated diagonals.

I'm happy to receive feedback.

On to more cruciform compositions!

Cacophonous Morning
4x4", collage, acrylic, ink, and oil pastels on canvas paper
Process photos:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Wonder What'll Happen If …

Jane Davies is fearless. Give her a blank surface and some art materials—no hesitation! She dives right in. Tries anything. Says, Wonder what'll happen if …

OK, Jane. Here I come!

Wonder what'll happen if I scribble all over a postcard with my left hand using a purple pen …

… a mess of scribbles.

Wonder what'll happen if I make circles all over the top of the purple scribbles with my left hand using a turquoise pen … 

… a bigger mess of scribbles, in two colors.

Wonder what'll happen if I put a Chinese White wax pastel in my hand and let it do whatever it wants to do over the top of all the scribbles … 

… You know how a windshield wiper brings sudden clarity to a windshield covered with a misting rain? Using the pastel brought sudden clarity to my experiment in a way diametrically opposed to a wiper's clearing off a windshield. The pastel was fresh misting rain, gently softening and blurring my view, making my world cottony and foggy—muted, soothing.

Wonder what'll happen if I add Sky Blue, Royal Blue, and Grey to the windshield …

Postcard 12
4x5", acrylic, ink, and wax pastels on manila stock
[not for sale]
humble beginnings

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Today's lines, meanders, colors, and tributaries reminded me of sitting in a classroom in the American School of the Hague, a classroom in a house that had been converted into a school. Teacher Miss Thompson was British, my fifth-grade classmates American, the lesson geography, the task to draw a freehand map of a country somewhere else in the world—I have no memory of what country we were studying; what I have is an embodied memory of the interior place I inhabited while drawing.

When I immersed myself in embellishing another postcard setup today, I was back in that classroom, drawing and inhabiting a place somewhere in my interior world.

Love the travel!

Postcard 11
4x5", acrylic, ink, oil pastels, and matte medium on manila stock
[not for sale]

humble beginnings

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Woke to soundless wonder this morning in Maine, with a silent moving picture outside the window—endless soft white crystals like so much confectioner's sugar sifting down in front of a monochromatic backdrop of evergreens still showing black before dawn.  

Tiptoed downstairs to my perch on the loveseat, the gentle hum of the furnace the only sound, Futh still upstairs asleep.

Pulled out another postcard setup. Put the start of an idea in place with soft deliberation, making intentional marks but wondering where they might take me. 

Loved the shift from … is it from one side of the brain to the other? from mind to intuition? from physical to spiritual? Matters not. Loved that I started with some tidy lines and soon found myself creating from a snowfall-induced inner stillness that opened space for messy scribbles.

I started as the do-er and became the observer.

4x5", acrylic, ink, and wax pastel on manila stock
[not for sale]
humble beginnings
silent moving picture outside my window,
showing here as a still shot
Postscript: I drafted this post immediately after painting first thing this morning. Drove from Maine winter to Massachusetts summer this afternoon—it was 58 degrees when I got home!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dining Room Doodles

Drove to Maine this morning to hang out with Futh. Brought along my postcard setups.

Sat on the loveseat in the dining room nook after lunch, February sun kissing the back of my head, and played with pens and wax pastels.

What started earlier this week as fingerprints of paint on manila stock metamorphosed this afternoon. That little river of doodles crossing the page holds the story of a cake's baking, a dad's dozing, a daughter's losing herself in the flow of one moment and another moment and another.

All is well.

Postcard 9
4x5", acrylic, ink, and wax pastel on manila stock
[not for sale]

humble beginnings

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Daily Paintworks Facebook Pick of the Day!

What fun to open my email a few minutes ago to discover a message informing me that my painting, Criss-Cross, Logs and Moss, which I shared in my 2/17/16 post entitled Lesson Three, was selected as a Daily Paintworks Facebook Pick of the Day.

Woo hoo!

I'm amused that the painting that shows in the thumbnail at Daily Paintworks and at their Facebook page is the work-in-progress photo that appears first in my post—it's not even the completed painting!

Back to My Teeny Tiny Art Series

Wanted to make a card for a friend today, and the teeny tiny art series I started a couple of weeks ago called to me.

Picked up one of the pieces cut from the original collage, turned it this way and that, trimmed it a bit, grabbed some nylon screen and laid in some texture with paint.

Then, started tracing lines and shapes with ink.

After that, used oil pastels.

Next, trimmed a bit more. Took a photograph, realized I hadn't signed my painting, saw where I wanted to add color.

Now, done!

So Much Not to Be Fathomed
3.25x4.25", acrylic, collage, ink, and oil pastels on watercolor paper
[not for sale]

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lesson Three

Earlier in February I tried to move on to Lesson Three in my composition class several times, but Lesson Two kept wagging its finger, saying, Oh, no you don't!

Now, though, Lesson Two feels woven into the fabric of who I am as an artist, so I try my hand at Lesson Three today for the first time—after reading the written part of the lesson more than once!

The composition structure for this lesson is the cruciform shape, something I became aware of at a conscious—albeit rudimentary—level back in the fall. A focus in the lesson is to create transitions between the cruciform shape and the quadrants it creates, to integrate the cruciform shape so it is not just Shape on Background. The guidelines instruct me to create my cruciform shape using primarily collage, and to use texture to create my transitions.

Ready, set, go!

Here's my Shape on Background:

Here are the transitions I created with texture to integrate the cruciform shape with the background quadrants:

Criss-Cross, Logs and Moss
4x4.5", acrylic and collage on watercolor paper

At the moment, I have only the simplest of tools to use for texture, but I'm chomping at the bit to add to my collection. Today I used nylon screen, a hole-punch-punctured foil lid from a yogurt container, an ink stamp, a plastic mesh scouring pad thingie, and a foam packing peanut.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Keeping My Suitcase Out

Finished our mopey sad drive home from VA midday yesterday.

But, no reason to put my suitcase away.

I'm heading to ME on Friday!

Painted some new postcard setups to take with me. Every time I paint those setups I'm struck by the fact that for me, even something as self-directed, simple, and low-stakes as making postcards for my dad, who is enthusiastic and entirely nonjudgmental, requires a little leap of courage to get going.

Nothing for it but to do it.

Caroline and Emmy, do you see the face in one of my cards? I didn't even mean to make it, but there it is, just like all the unintentional faces we saw over the weekend!

Funny to think that it'll be my hand that'll continue to work on these, but I have no idea whatsoever as to what they'll look like in the end.

postcard set-ups

Monday, February 15, 2016


When I worked through lesson 2 in my downloaded Jane Davies Dynamic Composition class, I struggled a bunch. Couldn't get a handle on what my objective was.

I watched the video, was cool when she said, Ok, here I'm going to let this dry for a few minutes, and decide what to do next. 

Except then the video ended, and she never did anything next. What the heck!

Jane, come back! You've left me high and dry!

Well, in fact, she had not left me high and dry. The blooper was entirely mine. I'd left me high and dry! I'd forgotten the written part of the lesson, which I did read at the start of the lesson but lost track of somewhere en route. Sure could have spared myself some internal friction had I remembered it.

Weeks later, and after three challenging iterations of the assignment, what did I bump into?


The written lesson.

So I took me to my studio and made me a totally fun fourth abstract landscape collage.

Actually I didn't make me the landscape. I made Chloe the landscape.

Happy birthday, Chloe!

Amethyst for Chloe
4x5", acrylic and collage on watercolor paper
abstract landscape
[not for sale]

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Full Heart, Broken Heart

Best Valentine's Day activity: making collaged hearts with granddaughters Caroline and Emmy. Totally LOVED the art table time together. Full heart.

Emmy's collage in progress
Caroline's collage in progress
G-ma's collage in progress
hearts cut from collages
completed project
completed project
Don't even talk to me about the weather's forcing us to leave VA today instead of tomorrow. I have nothing nice to say. Nothing. Broken heart.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Serial Love

Knowing that Dave and I will be in Virginia with Meg, Michael, Caroline, and Emmy on Valentine's Day, I wanted to create a Valentine of some sort. I wanted to fiddle around with collage again so that became my point of departure.

I started with a watercolor paper substrate and a bunch of print matter. My favorite print matter: (1) a section of the hospital bracelet I wore when I had a recent thyroid ultrasound, (2) torn bits of a subpoena for a deposition I ended up not having to give, along with (3) torn bits of the check for $40 which was going to compensate me for my time(!) at said deposition. I painted over the collage.

Next, I added a new layer of collage.

After that, I partially masked the new collaged pieces.

Then, off to my paper trimmer to chop the whole thing into four quadrants, with the idea of finishing each piece separately to create a small series of related but differing pieces. From there, I inked in a few heart shapes and started painting one quadrant with tissue paper.

One thing led to another until I had created a Valentine's Day card.

4x5", collage, acrylic, and ink on watercolor paper
2016 [not for sale]

Here's where my series stands for the moment. Counterclockwise from top right: #1—completed card, #2—embellished with first doodles, #3 and #4—hanging out till it's their turn.

Friday, February 12, 2016


Rock-Paper-Scissors, a simple game played round the world, usually as a way to decide whose turn it is to do something.

There are only three possible outcomes.

Rock crushes scissors. Scissors cut paper. Paper covers rock.

In my studio there often seems to be a game of rock paper scissors going on, little power plays to decide whose turn it is … idea? intuition? technique?

Today brought a mess of such little power plays. I started with a happy section of the blind contour drawing I'd made awhile back. I ended with a 3.75x3.75" dissatisfaction of ink, acrylic, and pastels on watercolor paper.

But then, scissors cut paper. HA!

That square of disappointment became nine little 1.25" square paper tiles—a series of little color-and-line satisfactions to move around a game board.

A whole new game.

And it was my turn to do something!

I made a card and sent it to Carrie.

4.5x4.5", ink, acrylic, and pastels on watercolor paper
[not for sale]

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Landscape Skyscape Seascape Innerscape Escape

For days I haven't been able to get out of my own way.

I really struggled with the Jane Davies abstract landscape collage assignment. Despite my taking pleasure in process more than once (yay!), hopes that I'd also create something pleasing to my eye kept crashing and burning.

And I was feeling very discouraged.

Kept running around in circles.

Should I put my whited-out version of You Know That Wyoming out at the curb in the recycling bin? Certainly felt like a viable option, a practical and potentially useful way to clear inner space and move forward.

Should I give the piece another chance? And, if so, how?

I was at a loss and feeling burdened.

I woke this morning far from refreshed after significant insomnia in the night during which time I considered many painting ideas—all of which struck me as useless in the light of day.

Nonetheless, a genuine spark of interest in picking up my paintbrush again flared midmorning. It was just the tiniest spark, but here's where it took me when I fanned it … to a collage that pleases my eye!

I escaped my discouraged innerscape and created an abstract landscape! Hot damn!

Made for You and Me
8x8", acrylic and collage on watercolor paper
abstract landscape

A recap of the journey:

collaged print matter
veiled print matter
color warmed up a bit
hints of landscape
abstract landscape
new colors;
surface textured with foam stamps and wet cloth
more collage added;
tissue paper used to 'paint' refining touches
finishing kisses of tissue;