Day 151: Aurora

Aurora, an 8x10" mixed media painting about HAARP

Today I started on a painting from a photo of the mission district. Realizing that I had an ice cube’s chance in hell of getting it finished today, I decided to knock out another mixed media painting for my daily piece. There are a few specific bands I prefer to listen to while I’m making art- Radiohead, Muse, Interpol, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are my favorites- it’s as if their music somehow attunes my brainwaves to a special frequency that aids the artmaking process.

While listening to Muse today, I thought of their live album & DVD, HAARP. Muse is particularly sociopolitical in many of their songs, and this reference to the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Alaska is no exception. So I used that as my jumping-off point while rifling through paper materials.

“Aurora” includes a dictionary page, Nancy Drew page, sewing patterns, atlas snippet of the US/Canada border & Alaska and a table about “discharge through gases” from an old physics book.

What is this HAARP, you ask? You can see what Wikipedia has to say about it here. There’s a lot of opposition to this program because they’re being pretty willy-nilly about messing with our ionosphere. Which is kind of a big deal seeing as how it protects our planet and all. 😉 Curious? You can watch a good documentary called Holes in Heaven, narrated by Martin Sheen.

P.S. Muse- if you ever find this post by some miracle of the universe, thanks for the inspiration. If you happen to need some artwork for an upcoming album, I would love to work with you. 🙂 /end fantasy tangent


Day 150: Luminary


1. An object, such as a celestial body, that gives light.

2. A person who is an inspiration to others.

3. A person who has achieved eminence in a specific field.

I love dictionaries. When I saw the word “luminary”, I immediately thought of fancy lanterns from Pier One. I never cease to be amused by the written/alternate definitions of words, the words that have fallen out of speech, and the words other languages have for things that English has no equivalent for.

Today’s mixed media painting on 8×10” canvas includes a dictionary page, illustration from a vintage sewing pattern and the patterns themselves and a paragraph from a pocket atlas about the earth’s surface. I used acrylic paint, watercolor and oil pastel. The word “valour” written on was selected with that same flip-through-the-Iliad method from yesterday. It was fun to make.

I used to wonder how some painters could make tons of the same type of painting. But I see how I could make oodles of these mixed media things without getting bored. Then again, I know I’d have to mix it up with other things from time to time. I’m about the bust the cityscapes back out in preparation for the July show at City Art Gallery, so stay tuned!

Luminary, a mixed media painting on 8x10" canvas

Day 149: Avalon

Today was the big reveal of the commission painting for Bruce & Dave. I was nervous because I hadn’t shared any in-progress photos, so I didn’t know if they would like the end result. I don’t want to come off sounding like an eccentric recluse, but having people look at art before its finished is one of those things I don’t like to do.

It started with the mural painting. Most of our work was residential, so it’s pretty hard to avoid in-progress scrutiny when you’re smack in the middle of a living space. But it isn’t just letting people look at it, it’s the dreaded question we must have heard a hundred times…

“Um…are you going to leave it like that?”

Yes. Yes, mural client. I thought it would be really avant-garde to just paint in the elephant half way and then abandon it. Jen would clench her jaw and I’d answer.

“No, we just need to let that part dry before we can go back in and finish it up.”


So it was fabulous to be able to work on this and present it sight-unseen, but it was also nerve-wracking. What if they didn’t like it? Yikes! Happily, it was smiles all around. Rob & I had a great time visiting with Bruce, Dave and their friends Rochelle and Kelly, who came along to see the piece and help transport it. Now that they’ve seen it, I guess you guys can see it too. 😉

At 4 feet square, here’s ‘Nostalgia’, a mixed media painting on wood panel incorporating Bruce’s own collection of stamps and other vintage ephemera.

"Nostalgia", a mixed media commissioned painting I worked on for about a month.

But wait, there’s more! Don’t want to disappoint anyone with the lack of a daily piece, so here’s tonight’s work, Avalon. This piece, like the others I’ve been doing lately, evolved organically as I went through bits of paper and picked parts out that seemed to want to work together.

A snippet of a map with an island called “Avalon” started it. From there, I added a dictionary page with the word “mimetic”, a hymnal with the words “promise forever”, and a page from a German reader with the handwriting “the Lord is come” on it in blue ink.

Lastly, I grabbed my copy of the Iliad, closed my eyes, flipped through the pages and decided to write whatever word was closest to my finger when I stopped. That word was immortal, which I wrote in the upper left. The awesome thing is that I didn’t remember what significance Avalon had in folklore, so of course I went to the temple of the Wiki for that answer, and discovered that it is mentioned as the island where King Arthur’s Excalibur was made and is also a literary source of immortal beings. I kid you not, sir. How rad is that?

Avalon, a colorful mixed media painting on 8x10" canvas

Day 148: Into the air

Patterns, pages and dots, oh my!

It’s 10:30 pm and I’m sitting here staring at the computer screen waiting for inspiration to strike. I did the same thing a few hours ago in my studio. Thankfully, my zombie hands went to work making art while my brain checked out for awhile. It’s quite lethargic and doesn’t feel like aiding me in this blog post, however, so let’s see what the hands figure out without it… ljdkjjknwopcvfkl. Hmm. Guess the brain is required for writing.

Some visible text bits in the painting include "into the air" and "atomic"

But what I said about it checking out during painting is really true. My chatterbox mind settles down while I’m making art. It pipes up now and again to say something like: “don’t put that line there, it bisects the composition. Asymmetry… ASYMMETRY” or something less useful like: “You just made that part look like poop. It was a lot better before you pooped it up. Are you going to finish soon? Because I want to watch Comedy Central.” For the most part, my creativity comes from some kind of impulsive, mind-less place within that just guides me without screaming out what I should be doing in spelled-out thoughts. It’s hard to explain. Look, art!

"Into the air", a mixed media painting on 8x10" canvas

Day 147: Newfound

Newfound, a mixed media painting

Today’s mixed media painting on 8×10” canvas incorporates (surprise!) vintage sewing patterns, an old Nancy Drew page, and a map of Nova Scotia. Highlighting elements like the words “fountain of youth” and “gold altar” was loosely inspired by a show we watched the other night that detailed a legend that the Ark of the Covenant is buried at the bottom of this “money pit” on Oak Island in Nova Scotia (you can read the legends & excavation attempt history here).

I love shows like that- historical legends, or science and physics like Star Trek and Mythbusters. It’s as if I can feel that my brain is actually working and creaking around up there while I’m watching, as opposed to just gelling into a smooth ball like it does when I watch something like “minute to win it”. I’ve also started meditating lately, which is another fascinating brain challenge- getting it to be quiet! I’m enjoying it so far.

I’m also enjoying these mixed media pieces lately… but what do you think? Like them? Love them? Wish they would curl into a ball and die? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

Day 146: Travelers

"Travelers", a mixed media painting.

My studio at home is right in the front of the house. We live on a corner, so at 3:20 pm (and I imagine also some time early morning when I’m still sawing logs) there’s a flurry of vehicular and pedestrian traffic from the nearby elementary school. It’s like my suburb turns into San Francisco’s mission district for ten minutes. There are people jaywalking and double parking all over the place… a couple cool restaurants and shops open up.. it’s crazy. I usually have the blinds open for extra daylight, so I imagine people can see right in there while I’m sitting at my easel. Today as I scowled at all the brats tromping our struggling lawn like properly barn-raised livestock, I imagined the conversation of a parent and child looking over at me…

“Who’s that, mama?”

“Oh.. well that’s a braless hippie pretending to be an artist. Stop looking, honey.”

Detail shot of detective page & altitude listings

Do I make better art braless? Perhaps. I can certainly move around easier. Besides, doesn’t every woman everywhere whip her boulder-holder off the second she’s within the safe confines of her home? For a moment, I considered throwing on a sports bra for the benefit of the voyeurs swarming my home. But as I gazed upon the lawn litter our fabulous neighbors so frequently leave behind for us, I said “screw that” and continued working on today’s piece.

Detail shot of Yukon map

“Travelers” is a mixed media painting on an 8×10” canvas. Using several layers of vintage patterns, I created a ground of navy lines and arrows that felt nautical. Adding a vintage map page of the Yukon, a page from a detective novel with the word “travelers” on it, and the text “the directional sign”, a theme evolved. I added in some blue, red and yellow, which gave it kind of a flag feeling. Smeared white dots evoke movement while splashes of navy watercolor make me think of a spilled inkwell. I say success! and call it a day with just a few minutes to spare. Whew!

Day 145: Golden Globes

Golden globes of gemstone beads in a drop choker with magnetic clasp

I named today’s post that on purpose just in case someone is googling the actual awards show and ends up on my blog instead. I imagine them saying “oh rats, algorithm! Get it right already!” and then looking and going “oh, ooh! This is some purdy jewelry!” and becoming hooked on my blog. Even though usually it’s paintings and not jewelry. (Mr. Burns fingers) Yes, my master plan to draw in ever more blog readers has been hatched! Mwa-ha-ha!

Golden globe earrings

Today’s art is a set of jewelry- a necklace and earrings made with gold foil lampwork beads, gold freshwater pearls and some chunky faceted citrine wrapped in gold wire. I used to be a silver-only type of jewelry person, but the way gold shimmers and changes shades of warmness depending on the light is captivating and has grown on me.

Day 144: Burn

Here's one for the Burn pile! Haha! Get it? Burn? Sigh.

Man. Sometimes I just want to kick a painting in the face, you know what I mean? Hmm… actually, unless you’re a painter, you probably have never had that particular urge yourself. I guess I won’t be setting the world on fire with my catchy new phrase after all. You won’t be hearing “it’s just one of those kick-a-painting-in-the-face kind of days” around the water cooler. Oh well. There goes that dream. 😉

The thing about artmaking is that it has many sides. Sometimes everything is beautiful and glittery and slow-motion like a romantic comedy, and your piece comes out just perfect in the end. Other times, it’s like being trapped in a broken elevator with someone you can’t stand. At first, you try to figure out how to work things in the conversation to make life more bearable while you’re stuck there. Then, as the minutes tick by, you start to wonder if it’s possible to make yourself pass out from sheer irritation just so you won’t have to endure it any longer. And when that doesn’t work, you consider the consequences of kicking that person in the face.

The latter was how today’s painting evolved. I refrained from damaging the canvas, but I’m happy to see this one wrap up. This mixed media painting includes a dictionary page outlining the conjugation of the verb “to love” in Spanish, vintage botanical illustrations, sheet music, a bit of a map and a vintage drawing from a speech book. There are patterns buried somewhere beneath this mess of acrylic, pastel, and lots of oil paint that exacted its vengeance by getting all over my arms and my shirt.

My sister was messy as a kid; she once got multiple bits of corn on the cob in her eyebrows at the dinner table. I felt like that today as the oil paint kept attacking me. Ooh, maybe we can get that one going instead! Next time you see someone with mustard or ink or something all over the place, just say “wow, you’ve really got some corn in your eyebrows today, huh?” I bet Ashley will love that one. I can see it spreading like wildfire now…

Day 143: C & D

Today's paintings are brought to you by the letters C & D!

I’m trying this new weight loss technique I just made up where every time I want to eat something I shouldn’t, I imagine my mom pinching me on the underside of my upper arm. You know, that tender area that bruises easy and smarts something awful. I haven’t been on the receiving end of one of them in a long time, thankfully, but the memory of the pain is strong enough to have deterred me from chocolate at least a couple of times so far.

C is for Cheery!

Detail shot of C

Also, I find that if I’m in the studio all day working on lots of art, I spend less time meandering into the kitchen. That brings us to these two pieces. I started with a base of vintage sewing patterns and used them to create shapes. Then I did most of the color with acrylic and topped it off with a bit of oil pastel. Two letter forms ended up standing out- a C and a.. D? N? I’m going with D. They’re nice and bright and lovely, if I do say so myself. They almost make me feel better about my Sharks getting swept in Round 3….almost.

D is for Dazzling!

Detail shot of D

Today, C stands for “choked” as in “my Sharks choked in the playoffs” and D stands for “done” as in “my Sharks are done until next season”. 😦 On the bright side, none of you will have to hear me yammer about them again until like.. October. Lucky you! Have a great week.

Day 142: Heiroglyph & Astray

2 mixed media paintings

I eked all creative juices out of myself today in order to work on the commission piece plus bust out a twofer of paintings. Therefore, please forgive me for the lack of insightful babbling and feast your eyes on these sweet pics. 😉


Astray illustration detail with lyrics from Editor's "Blood"

On 8×10” canvases, these mixed-media works include sewing patterns, dictionary pages and illustrations from a vintage book on speaking. I used acrylic, a bit of oil, pastels and pens. I wrote in some lyrics from the songs “Munich” and “Blood” by Editors.


Detail of Heiroglyph with lyrics from Editors' "Munich"