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"

Day 141: Patterns

'Patterns', a mixed media painting on canvas

If you didn’t notice, they had an INTERACTIVE PacMan game up on the Google homepage today. I was in my studio this morning when tell-tale video game blip-bleep noises beckoned me to the office, where I kicked Rob out of the chair and wasted a good half hour dusting off my childhood gamer skills. I estimate that massive amounts of work hours worldwide were lost to this clever commemoration of PacMan’s 30th anniversary. Except for the people who didn’t realize that they could use their direction pad to gobble ghosts, who are going to be totally bummed out when they hear about it tomorrow.

Seeing that PacMan is 30 made me think of how 1980 is now 30 years ago (crazy!), how I am a lot closer to my 30’s than my 20’s (I’m only 2 years younger than PacMan), and how interesting it is that the paper bits I used in my painting today are older than that by a couple decades or more.

Detail shot

Today’s painting on a 9”x12” canvas features a colorful, abstracted landscape with a bit of retro flavor. Using vintage sewing patterns and book pages, I layered colored glazes in acrylic and oil pastel for the “fields” and “sky” and edged them with charcoal for contrast. With layers of printed information behind the image of manicured acres of agriculture, “Patterns” was inspired by the increasing awareness of organic food safety and natural health concerns I’ve experienced and that I’m also seeing in others.

Happy Birthday to my cousin Jaclyn, an amazing young woman and teacher! Have a great Friday night, everyone.

Day 140: Good Times

Good Times, a colorful 9"x12" mixed media painting incorporating vintage ephemera.

I’ve been culling local thrift stores and homes of my relatives for awhile now, collecting bits of interesting vintage ephemera as if I were some kind of art bird building a giant mixed-media nest. Come to think of it, with all the piles of completed pieces, stacks of books, bags of paper, fabric and scraps in my cozy studio, it pretty much is my little art nest right now. And I have to say, I do feel safe and happy in there. Rob even visits me from time to time to make sure I’m watered and chapsticked, so I’m well taken care of. 🙂

That’s something I’ve come to realize about this project. Even when I don’t feel like making art, the process of working on it brings a mental relief and joy of presence that I don’t often experience otherwise. It’s made me start to think of how great it would be to get involved in implementing art therapy programs for people who could benefit from it in ways they may not expect.

I got a mental image of a mixed-media abstracted landscape in a kind of assembled grid pattern the other day, jotted it down in my notebook and decided to take a whack at it today. Embedded amidst charcoal lines, glazes of acrylic paint and oil pastel on this 9×12” canvas are pages from piano hymnals, a child’s guide to maps, a book on public speaking, a Spanish/English dictionary, an atlas, a good housekeeping book and sewing patterns.

Detail shot

What I love about putting lots of different paper bits together in my paintings is the way they are both random and somehow connected. When I make a piece like this, I first pick out bits for no particular reason. As I put them together, I start to find connections that seem to evolve on their own. In a way, I see this kind of work as a metaphor for humanity- we may all be doing different things and considering ourselves to be extremely distinct from one another, but at the same time, we’re all part of one colorful composition. I like using vintage papers because they invite me to explore to concept of nostalgia and sociopolitical factors from the past and present.

A sewing pattern sky

Plus it’s good, clean fun! The title-“Good Times”- is from some words visible in this piece from a title page of a children’s library book called “Good Times with Maps”. Apparently they decided to give it to a thrift store since maps have been replaced by GPS devices.

Don't worry, mom, I'm going to paint the edges of the canvas black.

Day 139: Color Fields

The muse of Rothko was chillin in my studio today.

If you’ve ever seen a piece by Mark Rothko, you’re familiar with color field painting. It’s just that- fields of color sharing space, vibrating in their color-filled glory on top of and next to other colors- simple, but lovely.

Today’s painting on wood is clearly Rothko-inspired (for a better visual of his works than the Wikipedia article I linked to above, do an image search on Google with “Rothko”, and you’ll see what I mean). Most people start off drawing in pencil, and the leap to color can be a scary one. After many years of mixing and mingling them, I still feel that color itself is enough to take center stage without any subject matter. If you were to try and paint an emotion, what do you think would end up on the canvas?

Detail of brushstrokes and dripwork. (I think I just made that up. Dripwork? Really? 🙂 )

For me, the best expression of an emotion is often pure color. And some of my favorites are the warm ones. Red, orange, yellow and purple just hum for me in this piece. I think it’s kind of striking.

In other news, my Sharks are down by 2 games. SADNESS. That is all.

Day 138: Don’t Talk About The Weather

Look, it's raining disinformation!

I spent the earlier part of today working on the commission piece, which is on a wood panel. I love painting on wood. It’s soft and rough and absorbent and can take way more abuse than canvas. I’d just read an article about “going with the flow” in order to really enjoy life, so when I picked up a panel, I realized that the grain pattern of the wood itself is really quite intriguing on its own and decided to work with it instead of drawing something over it.

I traced some of the lines, which began to form a landscape-y composition. I painted in a large cloud and some ground, then I busted out the watercolor pencils for the sky. They had such fabulous names- heliotrope, carmine, vermilion… so I thought “heck, I think I’m going to write the names in there, like some kind of cool color-by-number”. And after I’d done that, I began to think of this video I watched recently that talked about the difference between disinformation and misinformation, and how “the powers that be” use both skillfully to successfully discredit dissenters. I can’t look at clouds without thinking about Chemtrails, and the particles of watercolor pencil began to fall on the cloud in a way that made me think of the particulates in aerial spraying tainting our atmosphere, so I wrote some of those in. Then I went back and crossed everything out and replaced it with the words used by the organizations that tell us everything is A-OK. I even included the title of an amusing, well-done documentary about Chemtrails called “don’t talk about the weather”.

I feel like it may have been better as a plain old landscape without the words in it, but then again, it was interesting to try to put some kind of written statement in with the imagery. And in conclusion, GO SHARKS! My game is on in a few, so see y’all tomorrow!