Mixed media mayhem

Can a painting be creepy and pretty at the same time? Hmm...

Day 192: Squirmy City

Having worked on another mini art quilt yesterday and published a “how to make an upcycled art quilt” Instructable today, I was still in a textiley mood. So I grabbed some teal embroidery floss, thread and a bit of fabric (old sheer curtain panel) and an 8×10 canvas. As I sat there wondering what to do with my handful of stuff, I looked at a photo of Istanbul in a pile on my table and grabbed it. I headed into the office and made a slightly enlarged copy of it on our laser printer, then went back to the studio with a plan.

Sky detail- colored thread under fabric and matte medium with a tint of blue.

After some clear acrylic matte medium, blue paint, pen, charcoal and pastel, I ended up with this painting that makes me feel “squirmy”. It’s partially because the fibers in the sky make me think of Morgellan’s and Chemtrails, but it’s also because the palette and combination of media is out of my comfort range. I usually work with bright, cheery, colorful palettes. This one is kind of dark and eerie.

Squirmy City Detail

I re-drew some of the building details with pen over the part of the photo-transfer the fabric covered, which kind of made the image merge from reality to illustration in my mind. Then when I added some charcoal and pastel, it felt like one of those partially colored black and white prints that were so popular in the 90’s, which I always thought were kind of weird. You know the ones. You’d go into the poster store in the mall (back when posters were popular enough to necessitate their own store) and there would be tons of those trippy, hidden image ones with people staring at them and some jerk standing behind them saying “it’s the Statue of Liberty! It’s a UFO! It’s a ship!” [and yes, of course I’ve seen Mallrats!], and then there would be a bunch of those black and white photos of kids kissing or holding hands with a red balloon or beret or rose.

No? Just me? I’m pretty sure I remember it correctly. Our high school was right across from the mall and we spent a lot of time there. After school. Not during school, cutting class and getting home in time to field the absentee call from the office in my best mom voice or anything. 😀 Can you tell my mama reads this blog? Anywho, this is a kind of different mixed media piece for me, so we’ll see where it leads.

"Squirmy City", mixed media painting on 8x10" canvas

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?

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!

Time for a free lino card!

Such a big mess for such a tiny painting...

Day 162: Cry of Astonishment

Even though I make art and do my blog post every day, I’m still amazed at the way the days just fly by. I’m almost half way through this thing, people! I don’t think I’ve ever stuck with anything daily for six months besides basic life functions (breathing, eating sleeping, etc.). So on the topic of time, I’m composing today’s blog post with a set of lyrics from songs referencing time, mad-libs style! Whoever’s the first person to fill in the blanks correctly (OR all the artists I used) in the comments wins a free lino card! Yay! Good luck!

Time keeps on slipping… into the _______. Sometimes it feels like I just fritter and _______ the hours in an offhand way. With plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled _______. For the _____ now will be later to win for the times they are a-changin’. This is the time to remember ‘cause it will not last _________. Life is very short, and there’s no time for _______ and fighting, my friend. I have always thought that it’s a ______, so I will ask you once again. What’s the time? It’s time to get ___.

I’m working away at that cityscape, so today’s piece is another text-based mini-painting with a bit from Nancy Drew.

5x7 and ready to rock. As soon as the paint dries.


Take the red painting and you stay in wonderland...

Day 155: Free association paintings

This morning when I woke up, I had a burning desire to paint windows for a few hours solid. Thankfully, since I have a pretty flexible schedule, I got my wish! 😉 I love the end result of my cityscapes, but working on them is draining. There is a point where I can put the photo away and finish without it, but that’s like the last 3-5% of it. Especially lately, since I’ve been really into these detailed images, in spite of myself. I don’t expect I’ll ever be a photorealist painter (because I would end up in the loony bin), but there’s a certain level of detail that has to be achieved for the perspective to be acceptable to my inner art teacher- who is a total bitch, by the way. She’s highly critical and always notices when I’m being lazy and don’t want to execute something as well as I could. And she never takes a day off either. Sheesh. 😉

Today I spent more time on this (although I’m sure it doesn’t look a whole lot different from yesterday yet. Sigh):

Why won't it just finish itself?

And busted out three mini mixed media paintings in a kind of “free association” clippings way. Some physics diagrams, dictionary words, patterns and random-ish text from Nancy Drew put together with a bit of color make for some interesting pocket-sized artwork.

I said thumbs down, Pandora!

Love my notebooks...

Day 154: Blue, a Haiku

Pandora! How many times must I Caesar “Vampire Weekend” before you stop playing it on my Interpol channel?! Interpol is haunting and mysterious and sexy. Vampire Weekend is a melonfarming American Apparel YouTube commercial. C’mon already! In fact, enough with vampire everything, okay?! Just knock it off already. Move on to a different movie monster, pop culture. I hear there’s a rare mythical being out there called the “successful artist”. Go find that. 😉

The good news here is that clearly, algorithms don’t (yet) know everything. Which is good, because that means Terminator-for-reals is still pretty far off. I wouldn’t want to have to abandon the art project to engage in a war against homicidal sentient robots.

I spent all day today on a cityscape of a shop corner in the mission district. I love the photo alone because it was taken right after the sun sets when everything is blue and the lights and colors are somehow warmer and more magical than they are when the night’s gone to black. But the great thing about a painting is that I can take a magical photo and make it into a more magical painting… in theory. So far, so good.

Here’s an in-progress shot:

Painfully slow, but we're getting there.

So for today’s start-to-finish piece of art, I wrote a haiku. Enjoy!


like the soft sea air

twilight skies rife with secrets

calmly unconcerned

Day 111: Drops

Something I’ve found to be really interesting about making art daily is that I’m much more inclined to make series pieces. It’s actually fun for me to develop a concept or idea or painting style by approaching it in different ways through different pieces- something I thought would be mad boring when I was a teenager and could barely keep my attention focused on a single piece from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still massively impatient, but somehow I think having worked day jobs and making myself not run screaming out of the room when boredom creeps in has trained me to be a better painter.

It was raining this morning when I went into the studio, and suddenly it occurred to me to make today’s piece- “Drops”-which is very much like yesterday’s painting, “Buds”, except that instead of sprouting upward and being connected, these circles with lines are falling downward independently. I know- the creativity meter is off the charts. A rain painting… on a rainy day. Wow. Please, try to contain your amazement. 😉

I can think of at least one other way just changing the line direction and the color could work for another painting (that’s my attempt at a tv-style cliffhanger to keep you tuned in for tomorrow’s post), so find out if I’m successful when we return. 🙂

Day 110: Buds

Today’s piece is an organic abstract inspired by the colors of my beloved hockey team (GO SHARKS!!!)- teal, black and gray. It’s kind of a hybrid of the oil paintings I did recently and the linocuts I’ve been doing- and by that, I’m referring to the incorporation of high-contrast line quality in black. 

Today was also my last day of jury duty. Yay! The group of people I served with were very fair and it wasn’t a terrible process. Except the getting up early part. Hence, I’m extremely pleased with an early post so that my evening is freed up to sit back, relax, and hopefully watch my Sharks beat the snot out of the Colorado Avalanche (I know that sounds violent, but I mean it in a sportmanlike way, honestJ) and the recorded episode of 24 from Monday- that is, if I don’t nod off on the couch first. Have a great evening, everyone!

Day 93: Fireflies

Sometimes I feel like I should title these posts “Pretending to be an Artist, Day 93”, or “Acting Like Thousands of People Read This Blog, Day 93”. Other times I feel like titling them “I am a f-ing Rock Star” or “Why Aren’t You Calling Yet, New York?”. So I’m glad we all agreed on me using actual titles of paintings so there’s no need to subject anyone to my moody whim statements.

Today’s piece, Fireflies, is another oil painting on 12” square heavy duty canvas. I’ve never actually seen a firefly in person, but I can picture the experience from photos and descriptions. I can imagine standing in a meadow at dusk, watching tiny orbs begin to glow and hover like some kind of adorable UFO. I’m still a little terrified when I get out the tubes of oil, but I’m expecting that to give way to excitement at some point.