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!

Abbreviate this

You might want a pair of sunglasses for this one.

Day 171: Crayon Hill 2

At night before bed, I like to do a crossword puzzle to unwind. Wow, that totally sounds like a statement a librarian would make in a dating service video. “I also enjoy a nice glass of wine, watching Jeopardy, and knitting costumes for my 7 cats.”

No offense, librarians of the world. Minus the cats, I’m right there with you. What frustrates me about crossword puzzles are when they use names- because if I don’t know who the premiere Vaudevillian ventriloquist of the 1910’s was, there’s no way for me to magically figure it out later when I fill in a couple of letters- and when they use random-ass abbreviations that I’ve never seen.

I will use every inch of that 10 cent paper palette, gosh darn it!

And then I thought about how abbreviations in general are usually pretty annoying. Any time you use one, you’re assuming that everyone who reads it in your email/text/memo is going to know what you mean. Granted, there are some abbreviations that most people know- btw, brb, diy… but is it really so difficult just to spell out the words? Language is a big deal. It took centuries of refinement and ingenuity and blatantly stealing cognates from other cultures. Must we reduce it to a few cryptic letters? It’s as if people who use abbreviations think they’re part of some secret cool kids club with their own code. Pshaw! Even the word abbreviation has an abbreviation. Sheesh.

So, some people get carried away with abbreviating. It’s not my bag. But sometimes I can get kind of carried away with other things. Like color. It’s not as if I sit down with the intent to make my very own amazing Technicolor dreamcoat,  nor do I just shut my eyes and reach in to my grab bag of paints and go with whatever I pull out. I will admit, however, that the end result does sometimes look like a box of crayons exploded in my studio. Hence, mini cityscape #2 on another 5×7 canvas for today’s art. Yes, it’s a little bright- but I like that. Hope you do too!

Today's painting, the Electric KoolAid Acid City! 😉

Lilliputians built this city

That's a lot of hillside for a 5x7 canvas

Day 170: Crayon Hill

I delivered some paintings to my friend Todd, a talented graphic designer on Friday. One of the paintings was Rooftops & Treetops from Day 96, which I truly cherish. Seeing it again and knowing it has a good home where it will also be enjoyed inspired me to get out the same set of photos Rob & I took in the hilltops above the mission district a couple years ago. I used a small part of one photo with a sea of buildings as a jumping off point. A quick sketch and some layers of acrylic, oil and charcoal later, this partially textured painting emerged.

What I told Todd that I like so much about adding charcoal into my paintings is that it retains that drawing element, and that the charcoal has this velvety, matte texture that is different from the shine of the paint. I just like it, what can I say?

What a sweet waterpark SF would make.

P.S. I just finished the Instructable I mentioned yesterday. If you’re looking for a fun craft project or want to make your own upcycled book art, check it out!

How to turn a book into a painting


Day 169: Glad at Heart

One of the things that makes me really happy is “teaching” people. I never tire of explaining to someone how to do something art-related. There’s a great how-to website out there called Instructables for this very thing. I have used it a few times to learn, but today I decided to take photos as I went and create my first Instructable to show others this simple technique for creating upcycled art with old books. Since it’s taking longer than I thought to wrap up, I’ll finish that and post the link tomorrow. For now, today’s piece is “Glad at Heart”, a 5×7 mixed media painting using pages from The Iliad and a heart embroidery illustration from a vintage Good Housekeeping. 🙂

UPDATE: Instructable complete! Want to make your own upcycled book art? Check out my how-to here.

Bus fare, anyone?

You must be a tourist to ride this ride.

Day 168: F Line

Do not attempt to adjust your monitors- it’s painted like that. 😉 When I first saw these classic buses on the Embarcadero, I immediately assumed they were classy-looking props for those Dockers ads. Then I noticed real people were actually on them, not just film crews in fabulous khakis.

I've decided the bus is named Bessie.

This is the latest beast (i.e. cityscape) I’ve been hammering away at for the last week or so. AND IT’S DONE! Woohoo! I didn’t select the title, The F Line, as an inside joke to allude to a cuss word or anything, so get your mind out of the gutter. It’s an actual transit service in San Francisco utilizing refurbished historic streetcars. (Check it out here) So you can actually jump on to one of these glossy, curvy ladies in SF for a nice little tour. How about that?

Who knew those big ass steel things that are a bitch to drive over could be so pretty?

While I did work on this for more than one day, I’m using it as today’s artwork. It’s 11 pm and I’m not going to force out some poem or drawing at this point just to satisfy my own “rule”. They’re MY rules, anyway. Executive decision. 😉 On 18″x24″ heavy duty canvas in acrylic, this is The F Line. It’ll be up with Valencia Blue & Peking Bazaar at the City Art Gallery in SF in July. Hope you like it!

Suck it, Kinkade.