"J is for...", mixed media abstract painting on 8" x 10" canvas

As my fellow artists/occasional procrastinators know, nothing motivates like a deadline. I met with a volunteer at Roseville Library last week to check out the space, and she agreed that my mixed media abstracts- colorful and upcycled from old book materials, after all- would be a good fit.

"F is for...", mixed media abstract painting on 8" x 10" canvas

We settled on the alphabet pieces and a few others that are currently on display in Sacramento, but I realized it would look a lot better if I grew the group. So I made 5 more alphabet paintings between yesterday and today, which I’m now posting for your viewing pleasure before I scuttle them off to be displayed.

"Y is for...", mixed media abstract painting on 8" x 10" canvas

It may seem like a last minute thing, but I’ve got a whole day to make labels and wire these babies. That ain’t bad! The edges are even painted. Woohoo! It’s the little things.

"A is for...", mixed media abstract painting on 8" x 10" canvas

It was an interesting experience working on these as my brain reached back into my maker memories from last year. I began to remember more about what worked and what didn’t with the first group as I got into them. I couldn’t find my vintage atlas (odds are it’s buried under a pile of other crap/potential art supplies somewhere in my studio), but I used my vintage sewing patterns and bits from dictionaries, a thesaurus, a children’s book and my trusty old physics book for the neat little diagrams like before.

"P is for...", mixed media abstract painting on 8" x 10" canvas

I am pleased with the color combinations, but I can’t decide if these are cheery and kids’ room-appropriate or if they have a creepy feel because of the black lettering. *Shrug* I think that bit reading “peanuts are not nuts and other surprising facts” is my favorite, because it’s just kind of odd. [The book says they’re beans, by the way, but I call shenanigans on that one. I can accept “legume” but are all legumes also beans? Any agriculturists in the audience?]

If I remember to bring my camera, I’ll update this post with a photo of the display from Roseville Library on Saturday. And if you’re local, swing by the library at 225 Taylor St. between June 4th and July 30th to check these out in person!



Howdy, guys & gals, and a happy Friday to you all! Today I’m sharing two new mixed-media minis I finished this morning. I’ve already blocked in my new nightscape [ETA 2- 3 weeks] and I’m working on a trio of commissioned woodblocks, but I find I really need the mixed media bits in between the realist work as a palate/palette cleanser. Ha! What a delightful.. homonym? No, Wikipedia says that’s a ‘homophone’. I’m so glad we resolved that, because that kind of grammatical conundrum just keeps me up all night. As does the following:

omg srsly ru4rl?

What’s this, you ask? Why, it’s a book cover I spied recently in the paranormal teen romance section at Barnes & Noble. It might have been on the MORE paranormal teen romance shelf. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that this book doesn’t even have an effing text title on it. It’s a cut-out of what appears to be a zombie versus a unicorn (which deserves a sigh in and of itself. Why?! I don’t even want to know). Apparently the youth of our nation still showing up at paper bookstores cannot be bothered to read three whole words. Or at least the clever marketing departments at the publishers in New York necessitating the ridiculous ‘paranormal teen romance’ section title don’t think so. Puke. Puke on this almost as much as pajama jeans.

Anyway, art-

"Domestication", mixed media on 5" x 7" canvas

I started thumbing through my vintage patterns the other day and happened upon these two illustrations where the 25 cent stickers were placed kind of conspicuously. That got me hunting down topics from my vintage book pile. I ended up selecting the word “domestication” in the above piece with the faceless miniskirt/apron model, which I discovered later included the unintentionally hilarious-to-me synonym “cowpuncher” that I’ve decided to start using as often as possible. From the Mormon “art of homemaking” gem, I selected “how to clean a house”. The word “discard” from a pattern also appears. Green thread ties a strike-anywhere match to the piece above layers of acrylic paint and a splash of watercolor.

"Hardness", mixed media on 5" x 7" canvas

“Hardness” features a ‘large’ men’s model looking uncomfortable in his short robe. It’s as if he knew there would someday be a 25 cent sticker over his wang, like a tiny tiny fig leaf. I threw in an “illustrated by dick” snippet and wrapped a slightly bent nail into the composition with blue thread.

These two pieces are a general commentary on outdated gender identifications. Using vintage materials instantly references the past, the patterns refer to social patterns (haha! that’s a true homonym!), the illustrations make me think of the obscenity of marketing and the price tags speak to our skewed cultural definitions of worth. Also, they kind of just make me giggle. 🙂 These two pieces are “colorful” in more ways than one, featuring bright retro-inspired hues. They enjoy short trips through the postal service and like to travel in groups. (Check my etsy shop for these soon if you’re interested. 😉

Three's Company

Tres colores

"Blue", a photo

Day 313: Tres colores, photos

I got up early today (gasp!) and spent half the day on a marketing project like a responsible professional artist. The other half was dedicated to a set of commission pieces, so for today’s artwork I’m posting a photo trio I took a couple of weeks ago and tweaked today for your viewing pleasure. I have a batch of all-organic brown sugar cashew cookies (SO GOOD! Recipe here) waiting to go into the oven, and for some reason that just makes it really hard to focus on crafting today’s blog post.

There’s something about cold weather that just makes me want to bake. I’m sure Betty Crocker will someday sponsor a study to uncover the genetic imperative responsible for this seasonal urge. Until then, do you have a super-special favorite baking recipe? Share it in the comments! (I know I’m not the only closet baker here.)

"Magenta", a photo

"Green", a photo

And what do you see on this card?

"Limen", a 5x7" mixed media painting on canvas

Day 225: Limen

I’ve got some sculptural projects brewing, but as they’re going to take a few days or so (seeing as how I don’t know much about sculpture techniques and will be learning as I go), I decided to do another mini today with an odd word I found in my vintage dictionary- “limen”. And it’s not the jazzy word for citrus you’re thinking, either.

It's a real word. Promise.

I know it’s hard to read, but it says: “limen- in experimental psychology, the threshold of an appreciable stimulus.” I used thread and drips of watercolor in a thick layer of medium. After it was mostly dry, I laid a piece of an old curtain on it and painted it down with some more medium. I like how it looks like an ink blot in the rain during an acid trip. (I’ve never done acid, but I hear it has something to do with bright colors.)

Now it's making me think of alien tears. Time to bust out 'The Fifth Element'!


Day 224: Disoriented

Today I decided to try to capture the feeling of disorientation with some blurred images from my studio. My table and my easel served nicely, as they’re drenched in layers of paint and give me that tilt-a-whirl-hurl feeling when I look at them in these compositions. It’s been one of those looooong days, so I hope you’ll forgive me for the brief post. Nighty night!

Adventures in Wordnerdland!

"Dauntless", a 6x9" mixed media piece on paper

Day 194: Dauntless

Today, I was working on a limited edition of “Across the Bay”, a mini painting of the San Francisco skyline on woodblock that I did back on day 48. An artist friend of mine, miss Trish Tunney, who also shows at City Art Gallery and is an amazing photographer, bought it the day I put it up for the July show and graciously allowed me to keep it up for a few days. Amplifying her awesomeness, she gave me her blessing to make a limited edition of them since a few people wanted it. So I didn’t get started on today’s piece until the evening, and I felt like drawing.

9 little lovelies in the making!

 Two of my favorite bloggirls (is that a word yet, Urban Dictionary?), Sophie of The Art of {Being} MissKoolAid and Nicole of BlueBicicletta are also talented illustratists (that’s probably not a word either. And for some reason I am pronouncing it with a British accent in my head, which makes it instantly sound more plausible. Caution to the wind, I say!). I tend not to make drawings as often as I do paintings on canvas because I feel like they require framing and whatnot, and they are somewhat more vulnerable to being lost or damaged in the melee that is my studio or guest room/store room for stacks of completed artwork.

Watercolor pencils + acrylic matte medium + pen on dictionary page

Then when I was working on that mini quilt the other day, I was building up bits of paper in a few sewn layers, and today it dawned on me that I could do something similar with my drawings. I know this should have occurred to me earlier, but sometimes it takes my brain time to catch up with itself. “Dauntless” is a mixed media piece on 6×9” watercolor paper (also effective as heavy cardstock) with the Motels/Mortgages page from the phone book, some colored paper, and part of a map of San Francisco in the general area where I took the photo that I used as a reference for the drawing of these houses, which is on a vintage Spanish/English dictionary page.

This is my new favorite word. I might have to get a tshirt with it emblazoned on there.

The page originally featured the word “coadjutrix” which I have never seen before and had to look up, and that was a fun adventure into Wordnerdland (oooh, three made-up words today, it’s a record!), but then I decided to cut out “dauntless” because I thought it was a nice way of putting a positive spin on the financial difficulty a lot of people are having with the housing market. Why do I feel like I need to take a breath after typing a long sentence? Jeez.

The $128,000 Question

Drawing Duet on watercolor paper

Day 189: Drawing Duet

A fellow artist purchased a piece of art from me the other day and sent me an email with a couple of questions I’m sure I asked somewhere along the line. One of them was- “Did you go to art school? Do you think it was worth it?” and boy, is that a tough one to answer! Financially, it was not the best idea ever. Had I gone a full four years, it would have cost about $128,000. I was able to transfer some credits from community college, which helped, but private art school costs a pretty penny. Developmentally as an artist, I feel my time at CCAC (now the California College of the Arts) was invaluable. I loved every minute of it- literally. I learned so much and met so many wonderful people. Just being on their campuses brought me joy.

Rob & I saw big fluffy clouds like this on our trip out to the river in Auburn today.

But what you do learn somewhere along the way is that art school is a baby bird scenario anyway. You pretty much can’t march into an office with a BFA in Drawing & Painting and walk out with a 60K offer letter. You’re there to learn technical skills, yes, but the most important thing you can take away before trying to fly on your own is the marketing part. There’s no “field of dreams” reality with artmaking- in fact, I met a man a couple months ago in his eighties who had been painting for decades, never sold one piece, and was just showing his work for the very first time. He wasn’t trying to make a living of it, of course.

Sometimes I wish there were little neon identifiers over other artist’s heads like some kind of Sim City, letting me know that despite the barista/office clerk/cashier exterior, a struggling artist waits inside. Because we’re out there… we’re everywhere. 🙂 And that love for art usually starts with drawing, which is what I did today- two small watercolor/ pen/ pastel pieces similar to the one from the other day.

Somehow this one makes me think of Frogger...

So Happy Together

"Triptych" is just a fancy word for "trio". Don't be intimidated. 🙂

Day 186: The ABCs of SF

After an art-filled weekend of openings and gallery sitting, I was pleased to sell a woodblock painting, mini canvas and several cards including all of these dictionary drawing ones from days 132-135.

I chose A, B & C words that somehow describe my feelings for the city.

I consider this proof that though I’ve never met anyone who’s openly admitted a similar obsession to dictionaries as I have, you closet logophiles are out there. It could also have something to do with City Art Gallery’s close proximity to seventeen bookstores. Either way, I decided to put my dictionary cityscapes and my woodblocks into a dark room together with some soft jazz and see what happened. Et voila! “The ABCs of SF” was born.

Each piece measures about 4 inches square and 2 inches deep.

Today’s art is a mixed media triptych on wood block. To create “The ABCs of SF” I used vintage Spanish/English dictionary pages with the words ‘Amaze’, ‘Bubble’ and ‘Canopy’. The cityscapes began with watercolor pencil and pen on the paper bits. The urban sprawl progressed with acrylic paint, and the blue sky got a couple layers of white and light yellow oil pastel which I rubbed in to emphasize the wood grain texture. Even though I’ve created really large scale work as a mural painter, I have to say there’s something charming and joyful about being able to hold a tiny piece of city in your hands. I much prefer doing landscapes/cityscapes to abstracts on these woodblocks since the heavy grain feels like a visual manifestation of energy’s frequency in the “air” of my compositions.

With all the buildings in SF, I sometimes forget how many trees there actually are. Hillside views like this are a good reminder.

I’m showing at City Art Gallery again in October, and right now my plan is to go with a wall of minis, so I’m gearing up. 🙂

I can smell the sea air just looking at this.

Trapped in a river of morons

Watercolor pencil & pastel drawing on paper

Day 185: Pizazz

It always amazes me to see how many people will walk right past an art gallery without coming in. Sure, some of them are in a hurry. Maybe they really need to get to a restroom or make a dinner reservation or return to their car before their parking meter expires- I get it. But to notice a gallery, with all manner of colors and wonders inside and the door wide open and a friendly artist at the helm to greet you- what on Earth would compel you to pass by? Clearly, you’re reading this art blog, so I’ll assume you don’t have an answer for me there.

Perhaps you can explain to me instead why so many idiots chose to pull over on the freeway to watch fireworks tonight. I just wanted to get home and get this blog post up in time, but I had to wade through a sea of idiots with cops behind them yelling at them through their loudspeakers to GET OFF THE SHOULDER. It’s not a parking lot, people. It’s a freeway. I hope you all got expensive tickets, you lemmings. 🙂 Happy Independence Day, ladies and gents!

Doctor Pirate Alert!

5x7 and pretty as a popsicle.

Day 182: Pastel Hill #3

Sometimes the window in my studio can be a distraction. For instance, my neighbors across the street put some assorted freebies out on the curb yesterday. It isn’t the pile of stuff getting my attention; it’s the odd birds amongst the yard vultures. Two in particular stopped me in my painting tracks.

The first was a woman who, despite wearing spandex shorts and an ill-fitting tie-dyed tee undoubtedly curb-fished on an earlier occasion, pulled up inexplicably in a Mercedes SUV and removed almost all the items in a haste impressive for her diminutive size. The second was what I need only describe as a “doctor pirate”, and I’m certain you’ll envision what I witnessed. I’ll give you a moment….Are you picturing a dude in green scrubs with an eye patch? Yep. I swear on all that is holy, that’s exactly what I saw today. Doctor Blackbeard hunting for suburban treasure. Could I even make something like that up if I tried. No, dude! DOCTOR PIRATE.

Candy-colored triplets.

Anyway, I finished that linocut instructable I mentioned around the crack of midnight yesterday. It’s here. Check it out!

Today’s art is Pastel Hill #3, a third warm-toned cityscape (happily, pirate-free). I’m the proud mother of three darling little girls. It was a grueling 36 hours of labor, yes, but after popping out these lovelies, each prettier than the next, I’d say it was worth it. Wouldn’t you? 😉

I sure hope you guys aren't getting tired of these, because I'm not! 🙂 I am out of small canvases though. So there's that.