Romancing the canvas

This is another one of those heavy texture pieces

Day 314: Blush, a painting

I recycled another old canvas for today’s painting. Underneath it was originally this really politically charged, angry-looking thing I did in college. I started off covering up the black, gray and red with tones of pinky peach, on a quest to see if I could defeat the angry energy I’d infused into it in the past with something happy.

Some magenta, gray-blue, yellow and gold layers later, I feel like I ended up with a piece that summons up the tummy butterflies and burning cheek memories of girlhood. I think this one is 18 x 24, so I’ve been sticking with the larger scale lately. Here are some more images:

"Blush", acrylic painting on 18" x 24" canvas

Detail shot

Detail shot


Free Parking Sundays!

In your face! 😉

Day 220: Self-portrait “The World” 

  1. If you’ve never listened to this song, just make yourself happy and do it. DO IT NOW! Oh, I totally saw a newspaper headline that said “Governor says let gays wed now” and immediately I imagined him holding a press conference at the Capitol building shouting “DO IT NOW!” and giggled hysterically in the middle of the sidewalk, which drew the attention of a crow watching me as I wandered the streets of a largely deserted Sacramento with my camera this morning on free parking Sunday. Woo! I wasn’t satisfied with the variety of architectural images I got the other day, so I headed back out. This time I was able to find my way to the Capitol (oddly enough, Capitol street seems to lead directly there) and I also got some shots of the Crocker museum, the gold bridge and a couple other neat spots.
  2. HALLELUJAH I am finally done with this painting.

“Cool, but why are you wearing some crazy gypsy quilt cloak?” I have this idea to do a series of oil portraits featuring the themes of the major arcana of the tarot deck. I’ve read tarot cards for several years now. I’m not about to set up a tent at the Renaissance Faire and hawk fortunes, but it’s fun and I absolutely love my set of Art Nouveau cards. They are gorgeous.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the Tarot deck has lots of cards (seventy something) and the first 22 are called the “major arcana”. They symbolize important events in life. Coincidentally, everyone has a tarot card connected with their birthday as well. (You can look yours up here online)  All the sites I can find, including that one, calculate these with numerology, but I think that’s kind of limiting. So I used this really detailed and interesting book to determine what mine was, which is ‘The World’ (January 21st). The World is the card of fulfillment, completion, and living contentedly with many blessings. In addition to the technical challenge of getting the face to look like my face, I decided to pay homage to the concept of my role as an artist interpreting the world by crafting a kind of shamanic cloak with different paper elements and “fabric” patterns that are relevant to me and my heritage.

Note to self: Make the rest of your models pose nude. Or in simple fabrics. Just a suggestion.

According to Wikipedia, “Marianne, a national emblem of France, is, by extension, an allegory of Liberty and Reason.” The name “Mary” has long been associated with navy blue. Genetically I have heritage ranging across the globe from the Ukraine to Germany to Mexico. As far as personality traits, I love words and the realm of the handmade. So I laid down a base of paper bits including world maps, a physics page about “terrestrial magnetism”, and several words in French, English and Spanish referencing art and some of my characteristics (like the term full-faced), and I painted patterns mimicking different rustic fabrics like fleur-de-lis, hand-woven wool and floral tapestry. You can still see hints of the paper elements, but they’re mostly a mystery to everyone but me. 😉 I also used gold foil as the background. Historically, gold is associated with richness and joy, but it’s also an art historical nod to Byzantine frescoes and the lot. So now I only have to hunt down 21 other people with birthdays corresponding to the other cards of the major arcana, photograph them, and then painstakingly eke out their personality traits as they relate to the theme of the card through mixed media/oil paint magic. Somehow I get the feeling it’s back to cityscapes for awhile until my sanity returns. 🙂

All that glitters...

Mini Pretties Continued

Ooh, shiny!

Day 201: Teethchatteringly

Zee Germans helped me out with a bit of inspiration today. The page I used in today’s mini painting includes an English translation of “teethchatteringly” written in the margins by the student who used it in blue pen. It ended up being a compliment to yesterday’s piece in the same blue and gold palette.

MS Word doesn't think "teethchatteringly" is a word, but apparently it was in the 30's.

I really love these colors together. The gold seems to warm up the blue while the blue cools the gold tones. I never worked with these colors together much for years because they were our school colors growing up and I wasn’t terribly fond of our local school system.

Ah, the memories. My elementary school, where the evil secretaries wouldn’t let me use the office phone when my after-school program got canceled and made me walk home through the local park where someone had just tried to kidnap a kid. My high school, where the nefarious head of drama who had an alumni student paint over all our set work at the last minute also turned out to be my sophomore English teacher. Little did I know I could have avoided writing all those essays and reading all those books if I’d just waited til the very end of the year when he held a hot chili pepper eating contest for free good grades. Yeah. Loved it. But it’s been awhile, and that’s behind me now. Now I can finally enjoy these colors together.

"Teethchatteringly", today's piece on the left, with yesterday's piece, "Fulfilled"

Don’t forget! I’m speaking on the panel tonight at “The Art of Social Media” event held by the Sacramento Social Media Club at the Urban Hive on 1931 H St. at 6:30! Free parking, food, drinks, networking and knowledge! See you there.

"Teethchatteringly", mixed media painting on 5x7" canvas

The little things

Day 200: Fulfilled

Ah, the little things. They can mean so much, or drive us bat-poop crazy. Take for example, the simple act of bagging groceries. I take it as a given that the majority of the human population is familiar with bread, bananas and tomatoes. I assume that most people understand that these items don’t hold up well to crushing. Yet every time I let it slide and don’t bag them myself or specifically remind the bagger not to murder my five-dollar-a-pound Heirlooms with my sharp-edged, heavy cartons of soy milk, I find them cowering sadly at the bottom of the bag when I get home. These bananas made a perilous journey from South America or somewhere. They managed to get all the way here without being bruised. That’s some serious kid glove treatment. For goodness sake, don’t put them next to the frozen stuff! They turn instantly black. Why does this require special training?! Where is this land, free of perishable food goods, that coincidentally raises all the grocery baggers of the world yet neglects to mention this? AAARRGGHH. /end rant

it's hard to see but the handwriting reads "was being fulfilled"

On the other hand, sometimes you’re walking into a store and you smile at a toddler, and the brightest, happiest, most unencumbered and freely joyful smile spreads across their face right back at you, and you can carry that light around in your heart for days. A happy little thing inspired today’s painting. I picked up this German reader from the 30’s at the thrift store awhile back. This particular page included a handwritten English translation note in pencil script that read “was being fulfilled”, which made me smile, along with a little doodle of an arrow shooting into the sky. I added some gold and yellow paint, traced the edges of the forms where the paper had bubbled up with blue pastel, dripped a little watercolor on and tied some dark blue embroidery floss around it. It feels a little like that toddler’s grin to me. 🙂

"Fulfilled", a mini painting on 5x7" canvas

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.

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.

Day 145: Golden Globes

Golden globes of gemstone beads in a drop choker with magnetic clasp

I named today’s post that on purpose just in case someone is googling the actual awards show and ends up on my blog instead. I imagine them saying “oh rats, algorithm! Get it right already!” and then looking and going “oh, ooh! This is some purdy jewelry!” and becoming hooked on my blog. Even though usually it’s paintings and not jewelry. (Mr. Burns fingers) Yes, my master plan to draw in ever more blog readers has been hatched! Mwa-ha-ha!

Golden globe earrings

Today’s art is a set of jewelry- a necklace and earrings made with gold foil lampwork beads, gold freshwater pearls and some chunky faceted citrine wrapped in gold wire. I used to be a silver-only type of jewelry person, but the way gold shimmers and changes shades of warmness depending on the light is captivating and has grown on me.

Day 130: Cheerful but spooky

"Cheerful but spooky" mini painting with text

Sometimes I see or hear words that simply intrigue me. When I saw these adjectives together (in Capote’s “Dazzle”, I think), I thought “there has to be a good way to paint that.” So I worked with some magenta, orange, red and gold for the “cheerful”, and some black (with a layer of red on top) and drop patterns for “spooky”. Success? Rob is digging it, I’m ambivalent at the moment.


I say paintings are like guns in that there’s a 3-day waiting period needed to decide how you really feel about it. Try that one out yourself- next time you see a painting you like and might buy, sit on it for three days. If you keep thinking about how great it is and how you might not be able to go on living without it, you can feel pretty confident when making that purchase. On the other hand, if you start to think it’s not that awesome and why did you even like it in the first place and maybe it was the free booze at the gallery opening, then save that dough!

Art’s kind of like dating. Sometimes you meet it and are instantly infatuated and take it home, but a few days later you come to realize it’s really a shallow piece of work and you’ve seen all the interesting parts already. 😉 A good piece of art- like a good mate- should constantly bring you joy. You should never get tired of it. You should continue to see different sides to it as time goes on. At least, that’s what I strive for in my artmaking, and in my relationship. Thanks for your continued support, my handsome hubby!

Day 129: But it was not forgotten.

Gold and sienna mini painting with text from Capote's "Dazzle"

First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, grandma, sister, aunts and all you other wonderful mamas out there! You have a patience and dedication that I do not! Unless you count being a mommy to this little guy.

He's um.. rounder these days. 🙂

Since I’ve been doing linocuts for a good chunk of time now, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “What about the paintings?” Painting is dear to me, and certainly easier than linocuts in some regard since I have spent so much more time with paint. So it may have seemed to have been hiding, “But it was not forgotten.”


Using scrap bits of gold leaf, gold paint and burnt sienna, I gave this piece a warm tone even though the words themselves harbor some sense of foreboding. I suppose it’s a matter of interpretation.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for- after a round of “eenie-meenie-miney-mo”, Stacey wins a free linocut card! Yay! Stay tuned for the next giveaway and a few really exciting projects. 🙂

Day 106: Encore

If you’ve never used metal foil, I have to tell you- it’s kind of awesome. It is insanely fragile and difficult to handle, but if you can get the hang of it, “it’s stunning”, to use my dear Tim Gunn’s words. I’ve used gold and silver, and they have other ones like copper. The shine is just really strikingly bright, unlike that you might get from a gold or silver paint. You may recognize applications of gold leaf from the jaw-droppingly gorgeous work of Gustav Klimt to the religious symbols of the Byzantine Period. The thing about metal leaf is that it tends to flatten a space, and painting on it isn’t the same as painting on the somewhat absorbent surface of a canvas.

I thought I’d create some texture on the surfaces first, then lay gold foil over it and add a geometric field in warm colors. This one is a companion piece for Reveille that started out with a knot and lines of yarn encased in drops of acrylic medium (yesterday’s was a grid of heavy gel under the gold foil).

What’s cool about gold foil in a painting is that it reflects light all day in different ways. So it really ends up being something that changes color tones depending on where you’re viewing it from and the surrounding lighting. This is the foil I use, and it’s cheap enough that you can have some fun with it! You will need the adhesive size solution and the sealer, and they also offer a red base coat solution for a warmer gold tone (used under these ones). Have a great weekend, everyone!

Oh, and I almost forgot- GO SHARKS!!! (That’s a professional hockey team in San Jose for those of you don’t hail from the northeast and aren’t married to Canadians.)