Sweet 6 month mark!

5x7 and full of love!

Day 181: Pastel Hill #2

Today is a special day, ladies and gentlemen. Today is the six month mark- the halfway point- a “wow” moment, if you will. But there’s no time to pause and reflect- I am celebrating by finishing up Instructable #2, the long-awaited linocut how-to. Will it be up tonight? No promises. But soon, my pretties. Soon. 😉

I was so enamored with the palette of yesterday’s mini city, I decided to do another one today. Here they are, happy together in the studio.

Usually my mind is quiet while I’m painting. Today it yammered off thusly for a bit:

“You know, these are probably more like Miami colors than they are San Francisco colors.”

“I don’t think only ever watching CSI:Miami constitutes enough exposure to that city for you to be an authority on its palette.”

“Point taken. But they sure do use just gorgeous colors on that show, don’t they?”

“For sure, dude. They totally do.”

Here’s a tip if you are a painter who likes to draw on the canvas before (or during) your painting process- use watercolor pencils instead of graphite! They blend in to acrylic paint easily since both are water-soluble, and can be washed away with a clean, wet brush easier than graphite can be erased. Plus you can pick a tone close to the paint color that will be in that area to help it disappear, or retain the look of the colored pencil with a little bit of matte medium. This was truly a joyful discovery for me, and I hope it helps you out too. 🙂

Stay tuned for the new instructable, and for a new video encapsulating 6 months’ worth of work!

Looking at this painting feels like getting a hug.


Sea of Pretty

Don't mind that black smudge on the wall behind the painting. It's a small studio. 😀

Day 180: Pastel Hill

I love being in San Francisco. I confess the mission district is my favorite. There’s so much vibrancy, so much color. I set up my pieces on the walls in City Art Gallery today for the July show, so I was in the area, admiring the murals and delicious paint colors of the buildings. A fuchsia thrift store here, a dark gray and yellow shop there, bright yellow, deep blue, sumptious coral… it’s a feast for artist eyes.

Getting there, on the other hand, is not pure joy. Coming from Sacramento, I take 80 straight through to the Bay Bridge, which was pretty light traffic until I hit the Berkeley interchange. It’s a seriously clogged vehicular artery. The fact that there’s a sign up saying “speed limit 65” is laughable; I’ve driven through there at almost every time of day when I was attending college in the area, and it’s always bumper to bumper. Why? IMHO, there isn’t enough signage.

Just couldn't put down the charcoal.

All of a sudden the freeways converge into a few lanes that are specifically allocated to split off into several new routes, only they neglect to put the sign up until the last minute, so unless you know exactly which of the 12 lanes you need to be in within the next quarter mile, it’s kind of a panic zone. I myself have been forced to do the quick multi-merge many a time, so I am always patient with the other freaked out drivers trying to make it over to the left lest they get stuck on the bay bridge for an hour. There’s certainly no uturn option there.

So I try to enjoy it, and today I really did. The cool bay air kissed me on the neck as my car creeped along, a refreshing change from the hot breath of Sacramento, the dusk blended luscious gold orange seamlessly into blue as lights twinkled in the hillside and I was grateful for the old romance of SF. Today’s painting (which I did when I got home this evening) reflects that in a warm, pastel-y palette of coral, gold, tan and blue. I know it’s still kind of bright, but I’m working on this refinement thing, okay? Cut me some slack. 😉

Pastel Hill- Cityscape of SF on 5x7" canvas in acrylic.

Madcap adventures in the land of the Handmad(e)

I love the big windows in my studio.

Day 179: Handmade Hand Linocut

With the gallery showing coming up right away, I’ve been preparing prints, cards and paintings for the day of the hanging (the art on walls, not the public gallows) on Tuesday. Arriving home from Staples for a last minute card-holder-upper-thingy this morning, I discovered one of my tires was pretty much flat. Thankful for the slow leak instead of a dangerous blowout, I prepared to change it out to the spare when Rob stepped in like my knight in shining armor. He changed out the tire in crazy Sacramento heat, took it to the tire place to be patched, and even swung by an auto parts store to get a replacement bulb for my rear taillight, which he then fixed for me. He even wiped mechanic (and Marianne) grease off of the steering wheel with one of those disinfectant things. Hooray for husband!

These tan lino blocks by Speedball are my favorite for detailed work.

This freed me up to do things I needed to do, like create labels, seal bags, and do my daily art. I’ll be posting a new instructable soon on the easy way to make linocuts, so I spent a lot of time photographing the process for this tiny one, a tracing of my hand with a heart in it and the word “handmade” in cursive, which clearly came out a lot more like “handmad”, which I find to be incredibly hilarious for no good reason. Don’t worry, my actual hand isn’t woefully undersized. I shrunk the tracing to fit my lino block. 🙂

Although, I’m sure I could make a name for myself in the circus art circuit as “the tiny-handed wonder”. If a circus art circuit existed. And my hand were actually tiny, which again, it is not. 🙂 Lots more photos of how this “handmad” lino came to be and how you can be the rockstar of your own craft corner in an upcoming instructable. Stay tuned!

Linocut + fabric + safety pin = custom patch!


6 hours spent cranking out linocards = joy.

 Day 178: Hand-colored block prints

Every time I tell Rob I have to go to the art store, he does the wallet cringe. You know the one- the pained expression and partial body cramp that seems to occur involuntarily whenever you think about having to spend money that you don’t have in abundance at the time.

I find this is a particularly pronounced condition among we artist-types. We so frequently have to look at expenses as “this OR that”… “groceries OR gas?”…. “cable OR car insurance?”…. “student loan payment OR credit card?” It’s so common, they should really start including a course on it at that $16,000/semester private art school I went to. Kind of like the “math for art majors” course I managed to find at my community college (a title that just barely won out over “the bare minimum of required math knowledge for hippies”, I imagine)- “budgeting for art majors” would include key points like growing your own garden to save money (on *vegetables*, people!), the law of disappearing money (you know, how it goes out of your account like 20 times faster than it goes IN to it) and how to be frugal at WholeFoods. Just kidding on that last one. That topic would be more applicable to a fantasy writing class.

Too bad I can't barter these beauties for utility credits.

Thankfully, I can use a lot of my supplies over and over once I have them. Block-printing is one example of this. Once your linoleum is carved and you have the ink & stuff, you can print away! Heavy-duty cardblanks are great to have, but there are other options too, including using fabric scraps, old book pages or making your own recycled paper out of junk mail. Which I have yet to master, but which sounds extremely satisfying.

Linocuts are addictive, as my friend Nicole of BlueBicicletta can attest to. Nicole is an amazing drawer (as in illustrator, not furniture) and loves using black and white, so linocuts are a natural boon to her art-making style. We’ve both been bitten by the block-printing bug.

I made these prints of my carving on 5x7 cardstock, gave them a spritz of fixative to keep the water-based ink set, then hand-colored them with oil pastels.

As you guys know, I love color. So today I did something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile- I hand-colored 4 copies of a block print I designed for this very purpose back on Jan. 21st (which I only remember specifically because it was my birthday). They’re as cheery as a vase of gerbera daisies all together on my table. I also did some color prints of my lovebirds lino. Awwwww! It’s too much cuteness for one post. I have to stop now before it gets out of control. 😉

If Warhol had ever done 'cute', it might have looked something like this.

Layer Cake

I'm filing this one in the "meh" pile under "some cool techniques to use later that I ruined by piling too much on top of each other"

Day 177: Process

Lately I’ve been having trouble knowing when to stop with my abstracts. If Tim Gunn were in my studio, he’d be saying, “I’m concerned. I just think you need to remember to edit” with that frowny look on his face. Today, after hours on the cityscape, I decided to focus on one layer at a time for my daily piece and document the process as I went. Now, looking back, I can see where I should have stopped. 🙂 Instead of boring you with a bunch of art chatter, I’ve included a bunch of images to take you on a photo journey of today’s artmaking.

Too bad there's no "go back" button on paintings, eh?

Cocoon of Rock


This just in! I love gold.

Day 176: Golden

Call me old-fashioned, but I love CDs. I know, it’s kind of like hearing someone make a case for the 8-track. But there’s just something about the sound quality that is lost in the digitization of it. I especially love listening to CDs in my car, which has a single CD capacity (gasp!) since it’s an ’03. It also has a cassette tape player, which I rediscovered the other day while changing CDs on the drive to and from SF.

Detail of splashes of watercolor & photocopy transfer of the fishhook stitch

I suppose I knew the cassette player was there, but I’ve never used it. The last tape I even remember owning was a Boys II Men cassette in sixth grade. I think I remember being surprised that the cassette function was even there when the car was new, now that I think about it.

Why dots? Why not?

But I’m thankful for the CD player, because listening to a CD in the car nice and loud with the windows up is almost a holy experience. When the bass shakes the pennies in the door, the singer’s voice hums fuzzy in my water bottle, I am ensconced in sound, swaddled in melody, immersed in the rapture of rock.

I didn't dip a cup in paint, btw, if that's what you're wondering. 😉

Floating on a MUSE-made cloud of awesome this morning as I made a canvas run, I returned to spend several hours on the new cityscape.

So far from done. I haven't even done a single window yet. Sadness.

After making some (slow) progress there, I created another mixed media piece like yesterday’s in gold, orange and blue. Including a dictionary page, map of the bay area, Victorian key images, stitching references and sewing patterns, this 8×10” painting is an abstract loosely based on my love for my unofficial hometown, San Francisco. Which reminds me- Happy Pride Week to my LGBT brothers & sisters!

P.S. Which MUSE songs inspired this blog post? Tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, & 8 off of their debut album, Showbiz.

Oooh, shiny!

Gold paint is like the grown-up art version of glitter.

Day 175: Luster

It’s only a matter of time before I flip to one of the science cable channels and come across a documentary detailing what part of the human brain has been shown to biologically mirror a pigeon’s. I’m not the only one out there who gets distracted by shiny things. Come on, own up- if you’re driving along and all of a sudden something silver flashes out of your periphery, you check it out too. I love using metal foil, but when I don’t have the patience for it, I sometimes use metallic paints.

Careful, this key leads to Narnia! 😉

Though I’m working on this cityscape right now…

Right now= a big mess. A week or so= hopefully awesome.

…I’m still on board the mixed media train. Today’s piece, Luster (or Lustre if you’re from Britain. And possibly Canada and/or Australia), includes bits from two dictionaries, an atlas and sewing patterns.

How do I make those dots, you ask? With the back of a push pin, of course!

In the vein of ‘simplified palettes’ (and in honor of the news that gold is now worth like a million dollars an ounce) I started with the idea to stick with gold, which is why I cut out the map of ‘gold country’. But the blue snuck in at the end. It gave my eyes the feeling of coolness I needed to balance out the warmth of the rest of it.

After yesterday’s mess, I’m pretty pleased with today’s piece. But I’m not sure if that’s because it’s in comparison to yesterday’s ickyness or because it’s just a pretty good piece in and of itself. Either way, fail erased. Yay!

"Luster", a mixed media painting on 8x10" canvas.

Adventures in Fail

World Facts, mixed media on 5x7" canvas panel

Day 174: World Facts

Visiting City Art gallery for July’s planning meeting (it’s a cooperative gallery, owned & operated by the artists for over 12 years now) yesterday, I was infused with the raw creative energy and talent of the place. Just think- that place has been full of great art from great people for so long. It’s no wonder the energy is electric for me. I always feel inspired when I go there.

Today’s piece is a good example of how a chunk of inspiration doesn’t necessarily turn into a great end product. That’s right, blog readers- I love you so much I even share my epic fails with you. 😉

 Two things I want to start playing with more are texture and simplified palettes (i.e. not every beautiful child of the rainbow on every canvas). Today, I applied some matte medium over the vintage atlas pages and a “remnant of undetermined fibre content”* with a palette knife. Years later after that dried, I painted some dark blue over it to emphasize the dips. Red pastel + yellow glaze + copy transfer of a Victorian key = dude, I soooo thought this was going to look cooler than it does. Meh. Good news, though- I spent a few hours on a new nightscape. So it wasn’t a total waste of a day.

*The bit of braided ribbon type stuff is a notion I inherited from my great grandma. It came in a package that read “remnant of undetermined fibre content” which I later used in Nostalgia, the mixed media piece for Bruce & Dave. Thus ends your bit of ArtProject2010 trivia for the day. 🙂

Driving in the pocket

5x7 mixed media landscape on canvas panel

Day 173: Lonely Tree

I like to drive “in the pocket”. This is my perfect bubble of safety. Plenty of room to stop, see tire shrapnel on the horizon or dodge roadkill. Yesterday, driving down Highway 70 on the way home, there were times I couldn’t see anyone on my side of the road all the behind and in front of me- much more generous than the “pockets” I usually strive for. It occurred to me that the speed limit should essentially be negated at that point. I’d like to see that one in the DMV handbook. “Be sure to follow all posted speed limits, except when you’re the only car on the freeway for as far as the eye can see, at which point Autobahn rules apply. Have fun.”

Today is an early posting (possibly the earliest one yet, now that I think about it) because I’m headed into San Francisco today and won’t be back until midnight. I did another mixed media landscape panel with a mental image from yesterday’s trip. “Lonely Tree” is kept company by a page from Nancy Drew and a bit of sewing pattern. Plus there are some cows about to wander in from beyond the edge of the frame, so don’t worry. Lonely tree isn’t too lonely. 🙂

The case of the missing rest stop

5x7 mixed media landscape on canvas panel

Day 172: Strawhouse

Someday I may actually get the size of my bladder medically investigated. I don’t really think there are any issues, but I’m a big fan of water. If water had a facebook page, I would officially “like” it. Who am I kidding? I bet water does have a fan page. Sponsored by Aquafina or some crap. Let’s take a look… nope- it has two. Sigh. Man, sometimes our digital world just seems so absurd to me. Anyway, off topic.

The reason I mention my suspicion that I am hosting a toddler-sized bladder is that I drove up to visit my grandparents in Paradise today and by the time I got there, I could hardly walk. It’s a small town about an hour and a half from here. I know there are a lot of people who don’t have to tinkle within the span of any given hour and a half, let alone every time they seem to get in the car. It’s like my body knows I’m not going to be near a clean restroom any time soon, and panics, and becomes super effective at processing my water intake all of a sudden.

Is this why yellow figures predominantly into today’s painting? Perhaps. 😉 Actually, I forgot my camera today, so I did a really quick sketch of a scene I passed while driving in my notebook. This evening, I got out a canvas panel, laid down some text from a Nancy Drew book and a part of a sewing pattern, and took a stab at doing the landscape I’d remembered from today on top of the mixed media. I haven’t done this before, and I kind of like it. The sense of movement that I experienced looking at this scene while driving is present for me with the blurring, and I was able to use the cut-out form of the paper as a template for the blocks of color. I’ve been meaning to try some reduced palette work, and this is a start. Yay! And just under the gun for today’s deadline too… Whew!

P.S. Happy Birthday to my father in law, Bob!