Wonder of wonders

"Wonder", a mixed media abstract on 12" x 12" wood panel

Day 324: “Wonder”, a mixed media abstract painting

Remember those commission pieces I’ve been yapping about for the past couple of weeks? I finished them… at 8:45 am, leaving me just enough time to grab a shower and get over to Antioch to deliver them to Bruce & Dave on time. 🙂

It wasn’t a matter of slacking, it’s just that these types of pieces take a lot of staring and thinking and layering. As a guest of Bruce & Dave’s asked me, “how do you know when you’re done?” Isn’t that the quintessential question when it comes to paintings? It’s a tough one to answer.

Detail shot; some of the materials in this image are book pages, sewing patterns, stamps from a collector's album, ribbon and a photo transfer.

But in this case, I was working on four panels at once. So my favorite/the one that needed the most work really changed day-to-day. Recruiting my husband as an impromptu critique group member, I would stand back and say “well, I like that part because of this…” and get his thoughts, and it would help me clarify what I wanted to do next.

All in all, they gave me quite a bit of freedom. I had some paper materials that they wanted me to use, and I had the guideline of generally making them complements to Nostalgia, their previous commission piece, but outside of that I got to do what I wanted to, which was a lovely gift in and of itself. I ended up working within a general theme for each panel. This one’s about childhood. I’ll be revealing the next 3 pieces over the next few days, so if you like this one, come back to see the rest!

Another detail shot


Black poem box

"Acquainted", poem block

Day 323: “Acquainted”, poem block

Today I decided to take advantage of the edges of these chunky little woodblocks and let the sumi ink I used to stain the surface drip down the sides:

Kinda ghosty and cool looking, eh?

…which I will probably be doing more of because it gives me more surface to work with. This piece reads: “well acquainted with trouble/ the desired disorder laughed.” Even though this one is dark and gloomy, I have a happy little cluster of poem blocks growing in a corner of my studio.

Mix & match for your mood! Trade with friends! Collect 'em all! Byaaaahh!

Snippets & snails

"Bound", poem block

Day 322: “Bound”, poem block

There’s been a flurry of poem block activity in my studio while I finish up the commission pieces this week. As those are also mixed media, the room is filled with stacks of books and piles of paper clippings. If it gets any worse, it will look like a hoarder-in-training paints there. Thankfully, no one has tried to take any of my tiny cut-out words away yet, but if they did I’d say “nooooo! Thems has memries!”. 🙂 (I haven’t seen the show myself yet, but I did watch some Kathy Griffin stand-up where she mentioned it, so now I’m fairly confident I get the gist of it.)

Today’s piece reads “a different right bound them to night”. It can be read as “to night” or “tonight”, which I like. This one is in green, yellow and blue and has an interesting grain pattern. I’m still using that Nancy Drew book. Although at this point it looks like it fell into a running paper shredder and was salvaged halfway through (by, say, a hoarder-in-training). Thankfully we’re only 43 days away from the end of the project, so my sanity will probably make it through intact.


Please Mr. Postman

"Awaiting", poem block

Day 321: “Awaiting”, poem block

Day 321?! Yowza! I finally counted it out and there will, in fact, be exactly 365 days this year. That means I’ll be doing a countdown pretty soon instead of a count-up! But don’t fret, my pretties- I plan on keeping this going as my personal art blog in 2011 and beyond. Maybe even with continued daily entries…. but no promises. We’ll see how close to the loony bin I am by the end of this thing. 🙂

Today’s piece is another poem block. This one reads: “eagerly awaiting long distance letters of interest”. I suppose it’s more of a fragment than a full-on poem. But that’s the beautiful thing about poems- these days, there really are no rules! See y’all tomorrow!

Words & Wood

"Deliberate", poem block

Day 320: “Deliberate”, a poem block

Today’s piece is another painting with words on woodblock which I’m calling “poem blocks”. I’ve been using a Nancy Drew book from the 1930’s. I like how you can actually see the typeset signature looseness; I imagine a printing press with men in suspenders and round-rimmed glasses wheelbarrowing heaps of movable type blocks to and fro in the warehouse, preparing each page by hand and secretly enjoying the children’s stories.

This piece reads: “deliberate teasing with a schemer in the evening” and makes me think of some flirty margarita-inspired mischief of the kind I often observed while bartending. I picked the colors of Sangria and summer sunset to complement it. I see it as seductive but sickly sweet at the same time.

Day and night

"Day/Night" poem paintings on woodblock, about 4"x4"x2" ea.

Day 319: Day/Night Poem Blocks

I’ve got a fresh batch of woodblocks burning a hole in my studio. These ones are slightly rounded on the edges, have darker/different grain patterns going on and are nude (gasp!) on the sides. Before diving into more mini landscapes on these [which I’m planning to do very soon, btw] I decided to do some color block/poem pieces with them to see how this new wood reacts to paint. I did a set like these back in June and some even earlier than that…wow, it was February. These read, “claiming night in the name of mystery” (pink-yellow block on left) “for the day had promised disappointment” (blue block on right).

This process involves flipping through an old book visually flitting from page to page until connections begin to form between snippets. Once I’ve pinned down my poetry, ransom-note-style, I create a color background inspired by it and add in the text. It’s really a fun way to work. Try it yourself next time you’re feeling creative! Perhaps I’ll write up a how-to for it and add it to my list of instructables.

Something soapy this way comes

"Little White Lie" soap carving

Day 318: “Little White Lies”, Soap Carving

Awhile ago when I was working on these illuminated quilted plaster sculpture things and these gesso texture paintings/ illuminated imprint combos (as you can tell, I’m getting really good at categorization), I had a few more sculpture ideas that have been waiting in the wings. I’m still hammering away at this great commission project (don’t worry, I’ll show you when I’m done) and it involves a lot of standing and staring and deciding and fretting. So after a few hours on that, I decided to dig up some of the supplies I’d purchased a long time ago to start on one of those lingering sculpture ideers.

Warning- this is not white chocolate. Then again, even if it were it'd be safe from me. It's not even CHOCOLATE! It's flipping cocoa butter and sugar. CALL IT WHAT IT IS.

The concept is a series of small carvings entitled “Little White Lies” made from soap. My idea is to project a light at them in front of a large wall so that they make big, ominous shadows. Today’s piece was a “proof of concept” attempt. I wanted to make the carving organic in shape and kind of gnarled so it would feel like a wisp of smoke or a gnarled mummy finger or something, which I think I accomplished.

If there are any shadow puppet specialists out there, I could use some advice.

But the projecting of the shadow- something I had assumed would be pretty simple seeing as how I learned about shadow puppets at the ripe old age of 5- turned out to be trickier than I’d thought and will require more finagling. I think the effect will also be better with a cluster of carvings. In my mind, I see all these sculptural, white illuminated pieces displayed together in some undetermined gallery as a little solo show. Then again, I’ve never had a solo show. So if anyone’s got any ideas on how to make that happen, feel free to share. 😉

I think I can

"Hilltop", oil pastel drawing on paper

Day 317: Hilltop, a drawing

Several people who are close to me seem to all be going through some of life’s trials and tribulations. Though I’ve always enjoyed snarkiness and cynicism for the laughter factor, I am fundamentally an optimist. I try to help people see the bright side of things even when it’s hard, as they have done for me in the past. Today’s drawing is a steep hill bedecked with some pretty little red trees that I created as a kind of metaphor for the ‘uphill’ feeling of life’s challenges. Hang in there, guys. It can only be uphill for so long.

A cart full of love

"Autumnscape", an oil pastel & ink drawing on paper

Day 316: Autumnscape

Today I finally hunted down my “local” Trader Joe’s (it’s about 25 minutes away) to see if it is, in fact, a terrific bargain of a place to shop. After coming out with eggs, pastrami, bread, gnocchi, tortillas, bananas, a lemon, a lime, lettuce, toilet paper and paper towels for only TWENTY-FIVE dollars, I was feeling the Trader Joe’s love. The same items at Whole Foods would have cost me at least $40-$45. Sometimes little things like that can really brighten your day.

I enjoyed the drive home, basking in the afterglow of my savings success, and mentally noting all the beautiful fall tree colors. Here in California, our “autumn” and “winter” are really quite brief and not as dramatically colored as other parts of the country because a lot of our trees stay green. But good old Sacramento has such a variety- it is the “city of trees”, after all, that right now there’s red, gold, green, orange, plum and everything in between. That inspired today’s piece, an oil pastel and ink drawing. See you tomorrow!

Black and blue

"Bruise", abstract acrylic painting on 18" x 24" canvas

Day 315: “Bruise”, an abstract painting

The abstracts continue today with “Bruise”, a painting that kind of floated into my head as I fell asleep the night before last. You know how some people will say things like, “I eat, sleep and breathe {mad lib your own activity here}”? I always thought that was a bit dramatic until making it into my 11th month of this daily project. I literally eat, sleep and breathe painting. Not intentionally with the eating part, but all three nonetheless. 😉

Dripping detail

It’s another dark, moody abstract/color field piece on a re-used 18” x 24” canvas. Like the last few, this one had fabric and heavy texture already, so I used that to inform the new painting over the top of it. This is acrylic with some liquid watercolor and sumi ink- a lusciously dark and saturated ink for calligraphy and painting. Here’s a close-up of the texture from the side:

Heavy vertical texture from fabric and paint