Retreat

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This piece was created over a couple of days, while I retreated to my summer getaway on Vashon Island. Its where I was born. This is the first year, since I had my son, that he did not come with me. I missed him so much–and all the rituals we usually share. Someday, when he’s not committing adolescence, and grown out of teenage hood, we’ll share our beach walks, our trips to the tea shop for reading & Majong, and our beach fires again.

This year, I truly did enjoy painting and breaking for beach walks. Eating minimally, journaling, reading Billy Collins’ poetry and laughing out loud with no one. Reading a whole biography of Annie Liebowitz.  Painting some more. Podcasts. Listening to the soft waves while going to sleep at night. Feeling the passage of time. So bittersweet.

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Who Said This?

“Something whispered,

something that wasn’t even a word.

It was more like a silence

that was understandable.

I was standing

at the edge of the pond.

Nothing living, what we call living,

was in sight.

And yet, the voice entered me,

my body-life,

with so much happiness.

And there was nothing there

but the water, the sky, the grass.”

by Mary Oliver

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How to be a Poet, or paint like a poet

This is a poem by Wendell Berry, an all-time favorite, folksy, americana, heart-poet. This poem reminds me of how I want to paint.

How to Be a Poet

i

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

ii

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

iii

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

~WB

*      *           *

Its been a weird, hard Winter. There’s been so many challenging experiences, relationships, daily disappointments, disillusionments. Everything is in flux.

Suddenly, a sunny day arrives, some sweet moments with a friend, a piece of art that lifts me up, a good poem, a good belly laugh. Then. Another wave of challenges, hopelessness, frustration. Up & down. Up & down.

I’ve enjoyed the distraction and energy of Instagram….but spend far too much time perusing and learning…and should turn to my own artwork. But. I have been painting all through this Wintery time. What comes through are these flesh & bony portraits. I love Egon Schiele’s work as it helps me find my own expression of struggle and passion.

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Her eyes were originally open, stark and piercing. But its better to take all that energy inside for transformation:

 

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Them bones. Them bones. Them bag a bones.

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I’ve returned to some roots recently, and found some grounding and renewed energy and zest! The sun has been shining every day.

Mixed Media: Diva Espana

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The Swimmer, Italian Pastry, Diva Espana are a fun series of collages that I made in January with my sweet friends over at my house. We gather when we can and love all things crafty. We all have a creative focus in our lives. Dancers, store owners, zumba queens, each of us with our own distinct, female style. I love our mix.

As with all my pieces, Diva Espana begins with layers of paper, images and paint. The little piece of sheet music is called “Robins on the lawn,” from a favorite piano piece I played when I was young.

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I love her blue-black hair.

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The background elements are like puzzle. Finding pieces that add to the composition, but don’t crowd or steal away is one of my favorite parts. In the end, her rosy neckline and skin tone were my favorite parts to work on.

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One of my gorgeous sweet nieces sings opera. She’s a light to all who know her, and her lovely young husband– who also sings opera. I’ve always loved the idea of the exquisite Diva. I really believe each of us is a Diva of our own life, if we allow ourselves.

“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own and other people’s models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open.” –Shakti Gawain

Happy International Women’s day, to all women everywhere, and especially those who came before me and did so much work toward liberation.

 

Mixed Media: Swimmer

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I love perusing old black and white photos, and collect them when I can. I found a huge bag of them at a yard sale over 10 years ago. Looking at their faces, I’m often moved when I realize how they have already lived out their lives. For them, its all come and gone. Their whole lifetime is over~all their children grown, all their work done, all their art and writing over, all their funerals. I’m amazed at how we just carry on, how we just keeping living, hoping, trying, making babies, dying. My life feels so short suddenly. I want to live and give everyday a unique flavor and fill it with all the things I love. Such as…

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I also love old b&w photos! The Swimmer was inspired when I found a series of swimmers in their thick, awkward bathing suits, chubby thighs, funny bathing caps, and heavy black eye make up.

It begins with one of my favorite processes: the background

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The whole piece really took a jump forward when I made some red & white striped gelli papers for her bathing suit.

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Her face was especially satisfying to work on. I used GAC, an extender, mixed with several shades of warm rusts and browns to create a translucent effect with her skin, lips, and cheeks.

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I thought I was done with this piece, without eyes, just the impression of her face. A week went by and I had to see what would shift~for better or worse~adding a closed lid. What do you think? I’ve been tempted to erase them again.

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Mixed Media: Fox

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Backgrounds create so much complexity to work with, sometimes I can make it work, sometimes not. Here are the visual stages of capturing Fox on the run.

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I loved using quinacridone azo gold, reddish gorgeous-ness, for his fur. I added painted paper stripes to the leg and various parts.

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Mixed Media: Angel (remix 2)

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I played the piano for years growing up. There was this piece called “La Estrelita” and a drawing of a latino man crooning to his angelic woman up in the window. This little angel reminds me of her.

I took apart a piece that I never liked, and began applying layers of paper and deep, blue acrylic to the background.

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The first version of the little estrelita:

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Her wings were odd, so I papered over and began again:

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The final Estrelita Remix 🙂

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Mixed Media: flower collage

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I posted this piece to my FB a few months ago, but never to my blog, and wanted to share my mixed media process with it. I pulled myself away from faces and focused all the layering and coloring and texturing I’ve learned –into this flower piece. It begins with the usual modge podge and tissue papers.

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I used acrylics and also lots of Caran D’Ache (“karn-dash” my French friend says) Neocolor crayons, which I love. They go on sort of creamy, and when wetted with finger or brush will smooth into gorgeous shades.

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I wanted to give every flower a unique face, but still have the whole piece hang together.

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It took hours and hours. Ugh. Its hard for me to spend that much time. 2/3’s of a day or so. Why is that so hard for me? Is it a muscle I need to grow? I’m not sure, but I like having 3 or 4 things going at once, to stay loose and inspired. Able to flit about acting like I don’t care. lol.

Mixed Media in therapy: helping children process their lives

My mom and I are working on a little storybook together.

Thinking like a therapist, one goal of the story is to express feeling deeply connected through grief.

Here are some sketches and a piece from the middle of the story. I’ll post more as it unfolds.

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Mixed Media: primitive ride

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I’m adoring Minday Lacefield’s “Primitive Portraits” class~ The composition of this piece is lop-sided, a little. I’ve always loved watching people’s connection and affection and emotions when it comes to connecting with animals.

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Odd animal that appeared out of the papers and paint. Large nostrils. And good for riding.

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I like the soft, fantasy effect, despite the clunky shapes of everything.