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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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.

 

Italian pastry & collage

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I loved making this piece. Ala Christy Tomlinson, I loved using homemade gelli papers (how smoothly they modge podge on), and using fun graphics like the layered cake. I never dreamed a red-white & blue piece would visually work for me, and that I could capture a European quality to-boot. As my mom would say.

Have you taken a color/personality quiz yet? It was fun & easy and here’s what they say about us BLUE people:

“You rely on your intuition; it will never fail you! But, you probably already know that. Others may perceive you as overly emotional, and you may even have a reputation for being a bit sensitive or touchy, but you actually just have an incredibly high emotional intelligence. You can be a bit melancholy at times, and you need time and space to recharge your emotional energies.”

Italian Pastry began like all of my pieces, with lots of layers of papers and modge podge and dabs of acrylic paints.

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Cutting and painting the paper roses, and shading them was super duper satisfying. I love it when my own process surprises me. Thrills!

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I added stencils, stamps, rub ons, and some doodling. I opted to keep her mostly featureless, with large colorful cheeks.

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I like taking photos of different parts. I like the different compositions, and different tones, and aspects get amplified in ways that I wouldn’t have thought of.

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And finally, the Italian pastry queen.

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There’s a tiny crack opening up in me, a protected zone melting. I’m so grateful to Misty Mawn and this quote:

“to make art that is meaningful you need to be true to your feelings and let them flow from you into your work

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1989, beaches of Vashon Island

 

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: Owl

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Naomi and I were walking through Whatcom Falls Park, here in Bellingham, and looked up to see first one owl, and then another. And then another. Three sets of large, quiet, watchful eyes, peering down on us. Such mysterious beings~we got all quiet and kept moving–really sweet to see them all posed up in the trees.

I’m recycling older canvases to create some newer works these days.

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I used a glaze mixed with green oxide to give the background some real pop.

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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: Angel (remix)

It’s cold tonight and the sky is blackish blue. I’ve started on a Winter series of Angels to oversee our dark hours here in the Northwest. I’ve been feeling really grateful for the therapy work that I’ve been providing all these years. I am grateful for the ways it so deeply engages me with others lives & emotions. I am often moved by the endurance of our human spirit, and come to love this fascinating, private, deep role I have in people’s lives. I have so much gratitude for everyone I work with.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ” ~albert schweitzer

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Ala Christy Tomlinson, one of my messy-brilliant mixed-media tutors, this piece starts with layered papers in two tones.

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Painting on this gorgeous deep blue, and scratching in some Shakespeare, was the most exquisite part of the whole piece.

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The moon is a piece of map, the angel is pieces of paper and dictionary paper, dabbed with paint, pencil, and pen.

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The flowers in the midnight field are dabs of gesso, pen and colored pencil.

In the end, I didn’t like her overall effect. She didn’t radiate the warmth I was looking for. So, I covered her over with more paper and began again. Now she fills the space.

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My mom loves this piece, and asked to have it. I was so attached when I first finished it, now I can’t wait to deliver it to her. Can you read the quote? Its so beautiful. “Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” It’s really beautiful how all of our giving is really receiving, its all so mutual.

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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.