Day 110: Buds

Today’s piece is an organic abstract inspired by the colors of my beloved hockey team (GO SHARKS!!!)- teal, black and gray. It’s kind of a hybrid of the oil paintings I did recently and the linocuts I’ve been doing- and by that, I’m referring to the incorporation of high-contrast line quality in black. 

Today was also my last day of jury duty. Yay! The group of people I served with were very fair and it wasn’t a terrible process. Except the getting up early part. Hence, I’m extremely pleased with an early post so that my evening is freed up to sit back, relax, and hopefully watch my Sharks beat the snot out of the Colorado Avalanche (I know that sounds violent, but I mean it in a sportmanlike way, honestJ) and the recorded episode of 24 from Monday- that is, if I don’t nod off on the couch first. Have a great evening, everyone!


Day 109: Deep Into Your Bones

Of all the days of the art project, today has been the day I most wanted to be excused from making art. Being on a jury has been emotionally draining in its own right, and this evening, my husband and I had a long talk about recognizing old emotional pain and not giving energy to it. As we’re both reading “The Power of Now”, it was a good thing to go over, but I was just tired afterwards. Ruminating on the death-grip of emotion and ego, I dragged my feet into the studio and found words that seemed to fit…

Then I flipped on Pandora radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Runaway” started up. With a haunting melody and lyrics like “I was feeling sad/Can’t help looking back”, I had to smile at how perfectly it seemed to match the conversation we’d had.  I’d been remembering the person I was several years ago, struggling with depression but recognizing that I’m not a sad person at my core. I remember the frustration, the desire to find some place away from myself. Karen O. crooned on and I wrote some of the chorus onto the canvas: “Run, run, run away/ Lost, lost, lost my mind” and smeared it down with acrylic medium while the ink was wet.

I stared at the canvas and wondered what to do next. Power of Now covers the association of ego with identity, among other things, and thinking of identity, I decided to add my handprint to the piece. After some yellow and orange, I was done. Honestly, I don’t really like this finished product, but considering the smears of emotion that are in it for me, I don’t know if that’s an objective evaluation. The time spent making the art certainly alleviated some stress, as it always does, and for that I’m thankful.

Day 108: Bee Butts

After yesterday’s photo trip fail, I decided to go for it today with a fully charged camera battery. I started out with wildflowers, and discovered the bees were having a great day in the nectar-collecting business. Most of the photos I got were of the bee’s behinds, however…

…and that pattern stuck with us all the way out into Placerville, where we traveled to enjoy the Annual Apple Blossom festival. We visited the Boa Vista Orchards first, where we picked up some apple-blackberry wine, apple-pumpkin butter, blackberry jam and raw local honey. Somehow, purchasing the honey seemed to alter the bees’ photogenic attitudes, and they began to work with me:

And when we made it to the Lava Cap Winery, where we enjoyed a nice chardonnay with mushroom brie and proscuitto overlooking the forested hillside, Rob even discovered a sweet-smelling bush covered in BUMBLE BEES! It was a real treat. Neither of us had seen a bumblebee in years.

In fact, when we lived in Campbell, we’d see dead bees on the sidewalk often. A lot of people think the mystery of bees dying off suddenly can be attributed to the aerial spraying being conducted under the premise of “geo-engineering”, in which aluminum particulates (like those in sunscreen) are being sprayed into the air to make clouds more reflective and in theory, to prevent global warming. If you’ve ever noticed planes spraying lines that spread out and become hazy clouds, you’ve seen chemtrails in action. This trailer from a documentary detailing scientific findings of serious changes in the ecology of northern California. Prompted by the sudden deaths of fish and trees, scientists were shocked to discover unsafe ph levels in the water and soil, and extremely high parts per million of the chemicals from the aerial spraying- far past EPA ratings. It’s from the website, which I’d encourage you to take a peek at if you want to learn more.

I used to be afraid of bees, but now I love them. I know they’re just doing their best to survive and support the environment, as well as supply us will all kinds of goodies like honey, royal jelly and bee pollen. And I hope more people will become aware of ways to protect them- and us- by learning about and becoming involved with environmental threats. Hope you enjoyed the busy little bee butts!

Day 107: 21st St, a linocut

Today was a weird day. I was sleepy and it was somehow hotter in the house than outside of it, so I resolved to head out on a brief photo trip for today’s piece. I drove around for about 15 minutes until I found a great area for images; pruned farmland with neat furrows and silos in the distance, birds in a wheat field, the peace of nature and good afternoon lighting. I parked, took off the lens cap, lined up a shot… and my camera refused to take any pictures. Apparently it had been left on at some point and the battery had drained faster than usual.

When I got home, I decided to go with a linocut as plan B. I picked out a photo from the last trip to SF, transferred it to the lino block, and started carving. When I inked them, I had a total Goldilocks experience. The first came out a bit light.

The second one came out way too heavy.

The third was pretty good; less blank spots but not too much ink.

I had another piece of paper, so I went for a fourth- the happy ending to this fairytale. I’d forgotten I had a pencil drawing on the Bristol paper I’d prepared, and the sketch in the background behind the linocut looks pretty f-ing rad, in my opinion. Hence, I will undoubtedly be doing some (probably colored) drawings + linocuts in the very near future, which I am envisioning as awesome, all thanks to an accident. Woohoo!

Day 106: Encore

If you’ve never used metal foil, I have to tell you- it’s kind of awesome. It is insanely fragile and difficult to handle, but if you can get the hang of it, “it’s stunning”, to use my dear Tim Gunn’s words. I’ve used gold and silver, and they have other ones like copper. The shine is just really strikingly bright, unlike that you might get from a gold or silver paint. You may recognize applications of gold leaf from the jaw-droppingly gorgeous work of Gustav Klimt to the religious symbols of the Byzantine Period. The thing about metal leaf is that it tends to flatten a space, and painting on it isn’t the same as painting on the somewhat absorbent surface of a canvas.

I thought I’d create some texture on the surfaces first, then lay gold foil over it and add a geometric field in warm colors. This one is a companion piece for Reveille that started out with a knot and lines of yarn encased in drops of acrylic medium (yesterday’s was a grid of heavy gel under the gold foil).

What’s cool about gold foil in a painting is that it reflects light all day in different ways. So it really ends up being something that changes color tones depending on where you’re viewing it from and the surrounding lighting. This is the foil I use, and it’s cheap enough that you can have some fun with it! You will need the adhesive size solution and the sealer, and they also offer a red base coat solution for a warmer gold tone (used under these ones). Have a great weekend, everyone!

Oh, and I almost forgot- GO SHARKS!!! (That’s a professional hockey team in San Jose for those of you don’t hail from the northeast and aren’t married to Canadians.)

Day 105: Réveille

During lunch break at jury duty, I started reading a book called “The Power of Now”. I’d listened to some of it already, but I’m one of those people who remembers best when they see something written. And though I didn’t get through much yet, I’m really intrigued. According to wikipedia, this best-selling Oprah book club author’s “purpose and hope for The Power of Now was that it would “play its part in … the transformation of human consciousness,” by acting as a catalyst to those who are ready for a radical inner transformation or, as he sometimes calls it, for “enlightenment.” While it starts off sounding all new-agey and lame, it’s actually a fascinating approach to things like quieting the non-stop chatterbrain worry-machine of the mind. It’s also about the simply joy of being.

So when I got home this evening after a day at the courthouse, I wasn’t really jazzed to watch the Sundance documentary “The World According to Monsanto” that Rob had queued up. Covering details like Monsanto’s outright manipulations of lab results showing the dangers of genetically modified organisms, firing & harassing of scientist whistleblowers and team of enforcers bankrupting farmers in drawn-out patent infringement civil suits, it was well-researched, informative and upsetting. You can see it on YouTube, and I’d recommend you watch it. Monsanto’s plan to monopolize so many foods and its’ close ties to the FDA/USDA means our choice to have non-GMO options at all could be gone if those who are concerned don’t speak up.

By the time I got around to art, I felt crushed and uninspired. But I busted out some gold leaf and warm colors and made this painting- Reveille– which is french for “to wake up”. Some of the world may be ugly but that doesn’t mean my art has to be. 🙂

Happy Tax Day, KnittersPlayground, who wins the haiku challenge from Day 55 and will be receiving a free print or linocut cards. Stay tuned for the next giveaway!

Day 104: Hold

I wonder if there will come a day that I have the courage to draw people out in extremely public places where they’d undoubtedly notice me staring at them. Like the waiting room at the courthouse. I didn’t even bring pencils because the last time I tried to draw people they kept seeing me doing it and then wanted to see. Plus people have the gall to keep moving around while I secretly draw them. The nerve. 😉

This afternoon, I pulled out my old copy of the Iliad and flipped a couple of pages in. I had some charcoal at the ready and no plans. I noticed the line “shall lay violent hands upon thee” at the bottom and remembered how I used to draw my left hand all the time. It’s one of those things. If you’re going to be a good “draw-er” (is there a formal term for one who draws that isn’t the same word as a piece of furniture? Help me out, my vocabulary-loving friends!), you need to be able to draw a few things well- namely, hands and leaves. If you can draw hands well, you’ve got a leg up on drawing faces and figures. And if you can draw a leaf well, if you really understand a leaf (one of my cherished teachers told me) you can draw anything in nature.

I haven’t drawn any hands in awhile, so I took a crack at it. I was pleasantly surprised that all that time spent getting hand cramps and going nuts between the difference in left eye/right eye views was worth something after all.  🙂

Day 103: Telegraph Cables, a linocut

Since I’ll be starting work on a commission project tomorrow (don’t worry, I’m still making a piece/day for AP2010), I decided to clean up the studio a bit. It’s a front-facing room where it gets a lot of sun, so it can sometimes be a catch-all for stuff I haven’t decided where to put yet or get tired of carrying. Plus, you know, I have stacks and stacks of flipping canvases in there. So, there’s that.  😉 While I was cleaning, I realized I still had a small stack of blank lino blocks.

As y’all probably know by now, I’m a big fan of cityscapes. And since I’ve been doing linocuts lately, I decided to try my hand at a city scene today. My hand and neck have some choice words about the carving, but they’ll have time to rest while I sit in a jury selection room all day tomorrow trying to seem mentally/emotionally/socially unbalanced enough to not be a great choice for either the prosecution or the defense. 😉 All I really know about this process is gleaned from watching episodes of Medium, so I’ll be sure to answer things honestly in case they have a psychic on hand. You know- just to play it safe.


Today’s piece, Telegraph Cables, is a linocut from a photo I took in San Francisco. I know we don’t really use telegraphs much these days (although could someone still do that? How awesome would it be to get a telegram, dude?! It would be like someone from the past had sent a message into the future… to you!! /end tangent), there is a Telegraph Hill in SF, and it’s more romantic than “telephone pole”. Just ask Ella. You’ll probably see this one as a card set in my Etsy shop soon.

Day 102: Weeds, a linocut

This morning, I decided to take a drive down to a scenic route off of highway 12 called the “Delta Loop”. I’d passed it driving to my aunt’s in Antioch not long ago, and knew that it was in this area I’d get the landscape images I could use for my art for the blind project. Granted, it’s about an hour away, and it was totally raining balls, but hell- I have the time. I even decided to make it an extra adventure by winging it in the non-GPS car (the other one’s ripe for an oil change).

Oddly enough, the Delta Loop wasn’t clearly marked. I ended up going down some other road that landed me on another highway, and it was only through my uncanny sense of direction (clearly I am wired like a pigeon) that I found the way back. It was a good thing that I went the wrong way, though. The rain eventually cleared and I got some good shots.

I’m planning to work with images with a good sense of foreground and background, then use contrasting textures to represent the items in the landscape.

I’m also considering writing some poems focusing on the non-visual sensory perceptions I had while taking these images- the sweet, green smell of wildflowers, the brisk wind whipping my hair in my face, the cold, pelting crazy bullet rain (seriously, you can SEE it in the sheep picture), the tiny trees in the distance like echoes of the larger ones lining the road- to help make the art more successful for the visually impaired community.

And while I COULD have used a photo for today’s artwork, I decided to do another linocut with a weed from my yard anyway. Why? Because I love you guys, that’s why.

I’ll be announcing the winner of the Day 55 Haiku contest, who will be receiving a free print, on April 15th! I figure it’ll make tax day a little sweeter for someone. I’m also still backtracking to make sure I haven’t missed any dibs calls and will be contacting all my “dibbers” with info on their desired pieces soon. Thanks everyone!

Day 101: Garden Flowers, a linocut

It’s been lots of paintings lately, so today I thought I’d bust out the linoleum and carving tools. The flowers I’d clipped from the garden to bring to the art show for a bit of nature’s cheer on the display table had opened up a bit more and looked at me and said, “Hey. You cut us and now we’re going to wilt. Why don’t you immortalize us in a linocut to make up for it?” I don’t draw a lot of flowers, but I figured the bouquet had a point there.

What I like about linocuts is the simplified mechanism of the stamp, the focus on contrast and the need to make my brain work in reverse, which it doesn’t like to do and complains about. Even with sharp tools, there’s only so much detail you can get, so you have to work with line and contrast. I even like the bits where the ink collects along the edges. It makes me think of centuries-old German woodcuts.

I think this one ended up a little busy; I will probably do a few more with more focus on individual blossoms.