Mixing it up

"Repetition", mixed media painting on 8" x 10" canvas

Hello friends! I’m mixing up the long line of cityscapes with a mixed media abstract today. I started this piece almost two months ago and it waited patiently, half-finished, until I figured out what to do with it. Two things led me back to mixed media: 1. I’ll have some of my other mixed media abstracts on display at the Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center from mid-May to mid-June, and 2. I attended an opening reception for a showing of mixed media digital art by local artist Ann Tracy recently. Speaking to her and looking through my own old work got me longing for the process of constructing a piece intuitively and without a plan.

Detail shot

Believe me, I have a long line of cityscapes waiting to be painted. But I do need to loosen up my style again, and stepping away from highly detailed work for a break- even if it’s a small one- gets the creative juices flowing again….sometimes. I have to admit I’ve been feeling kind of “meh” about my art direction lately.

Most artists will agree that when all else fails, getting your ass out of the studio and looking at other people’s art is always inspirational. So I recently signed up to be a “Sacramento Art Examiner” on Examiner.com. I contribute articles about the art community in Sacramento and reviews of local art shows. This is great since I admittedly don’t get out to as many shows as I’d like to. Knowing that my visits and subsequent write-ups with photos might prompt some people to get out and support local artists gives me the warm-fuzzies. Plus it gives me an excuse to check out new venues and I get to meet cool art people. Yay! Win-win. If you want to check out my reviews and recommendations for art shows in Sacramento, visit my profile on Examiner.com here.



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

A man in uniform

"Duty", mixed media on 1' sq. wood panel

Day 327: “Duty”, mixed media on wood panel

Today’s piece is the last in the collection of 4 commission panels I completed recently. This one is titled “Duty”; it includes two pictures given to me by Bruce. They both show his grandfather. One image is a carefree pose on the lawn with a friend, the other is a somber sitting photo taken as he and several others prepared to go to World War 1. Vintage paper bits I added to the composition include stamps from countries participating in the war, a nursery rhyme……

Detail shot

…an illustrated page from a German children’s reader, a dictionary page with the heading “bairn/ barrage” which are respectively defined as “a child/ in World War, a smoke screen used to conceal movements”, a piece from a storybook with the words “little boys put on their india-rubber boots and over they went”…

Detail shot

…vintage sewing patterns, ribbon and string. On all of these pieces, I darkened the edges to give them the effect of old photography so there would be an emphasis on looking back through time in this portal/window. I also used drops of slate blue liquid watercolor and postmark-like black circle stamps on each to give them a feeling of correspondence to complement the stamps Bruce gave me from his collection to include in the pieces.

Detail shot

It’s back to mini paintings tomorrow as I gear up for the affordable art group show at City Art Gallery in San Francisco I’ll be participating in during December & January. In fact, I’m heading into the city this evening for our monthly meetup. I’m constantly amazed at our group of artists and our combined efforts that keep our successful cooperative running! I only wish I lived a little closer. Ah well. Commuter bay bridge traffic, here I come.

Yellow polka dot bikini

"Equality", mixed media abstract on 1' sq. panel

Day 326: “Equality”, a mixed media piece on wood panel

Today’s piece is 3/4 of the recent commission panels I completed for Bruce & Dave. This one is centered around a general theme of feminity, which grew from the image of a woman in a bikini from the 60’s. I included a knitting guide from a Good Housekeeping book, vintage sewing patterns, “family planning” stamps from India, vintage dictionary pages with words like “flesh pot”, “flirt”, “respect” and “equality”, opera/hymnal pages, ribbons and a bit from a Nancy Drew book out of the 30’s. Here’s a detail shot:

In other news, I just sent out my first newsletter! Didn’t get it? Want to check it out/subscribe to receive them in the future? See it here.

Miss American Pie

"Discover", mixed media on a 1' sq. wood panel

Day 325: “Discover”, mixed media and acrylic paint on wood panel

Today’s piece is 2 of 4 of the recently completed commission pieces. I centered this one around the theme of adulthood & americana with the title of “discover” (as a counter to the youth/’wonder’ piece).

Detail shot

I used stamps from Bruce’s collection, photo transfers and various paper pieces like a french reader page “maman/papa” (thanks Sophie for that!), “mammalia marry”  and “yearning/you” from vintage dictionaries, a hymnal and a bit from A Midsummer Night’s Dream amongst other things.

Detail shot

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

Forever Young

"Youth", mixed media on 5x7" canvas

Day 293: “Youth”, mixed media painting

While I do have a new lineup of cityscapes in the works, they generally take longer than a day. So today’s piece is a mixed media on canvas mini painting. Using thread, yarn, snippets from sewing patterns, Nancy Drew, a children’s reader and a thesaurus, I used “youth” circled from the thesaurus as the theme.

Detail of upper half

The bright yellow dress-clad girl is awfully happy looking. But when I think of youth, I think of having moved past it. I think we become more nostalgic for our youth the older we become. I enjoy remembering my naivety, but at the same time I’m glad to have matured into a different person. Once you go down the rabbit hole, there’s no going back, right?

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Detail bottom

She’s a brick house…

From the side, it's almost invisible! 😉

Day 285: Fleshless

I’m still juggling work on a few pieces at once in the studio that aren’t quite finished, so it’s another mini painting for today’s piece. Rob & I were watching The Apprentice last night (can you believe Trump wants to run for president??) and this crazy mean bitch on there starts trash-talking, saying that another woman is “the weakest member of the team and the biggest”. Her target was not a heavy woman at all, but the rest of the women on the team are total sunken-eye-hole-waifs in danger of snapping in two from a hefty sneeze.

"Don't worry, Denise. I got these ADHD pills from my brother. Now Billy will ask you to the dance for sure!"

As a large lady myself, it got me thinking of weight issues. And then I picked up this 1973 pattern from Simplicity which refers to sizes 10 & up as “Chubbies”. How charming. :/

“Okay, so that’s 2 yards?”

“Make it 2 and a half. I need the extra yardage for my little Chubbie here.”


“Well honey, maybe if you helped out with the housework, you’d be normal-sized and mommy wouldn’t have to spend the extra dollar on fabric to cover your big behind every time.”

At least that’s how I imagine a standard casual mother-daughter fabric-store conversation would have ensued in a time when the patterns were labeled “Chubbies”. I also imagine fabric was $2/yard. *shrug*

Today's and yesterday's together

This mixed media mash-up includes snippets from vintage books (children’s storybook, dictionary, thesaurus) and sewing patterns. The illustration is kind of off-beat; I think the girl in green is supposed to be checking her nails, but it looks like she’s peering into a cup or something; that next to the rhyme “8 and 8 are 16 pills the doctor’s mixing” fits together nicely as a reference to our bombardment with weight-loss pill commercials. The yellow yarn is tied like a waist-cincher. And if you look closely, you can see that the part from the dictionary with “fleshless” coincidentally has “flawless” right next to it. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

"Fleshless", mixed media on 5x7" canvas

Girls who like boys who like boys…


Side view


Day 284: Between

After an inspirational morning jaunt to my local thrift store, I spent all day in the studio today working on a few different pieces… all of which are unfinished at the moment. So towards the afternoon, I figured I better get on top of today’s daily. I scored with a few more 25 cent vintage patterns. One of the oddest groups of illustrations included what appears to be two boys playing doctor and this guy with his adorable little bear hand puppet.


Detail of the little boy illustration


As I rifled through my other bits and pieces in the studio, I began to find items that made me think of gender identity and the gray area that some children must experience when coming of age- whether transgendered, gay or straight, the whole introduction of hormones messes with all of us at some point. And it seems that’s happening much earlier these days than it used to with all the FDA/USDA-supported genetically modified organisms and hormones in our food supply.


Detail from the bottom


Another thing happening a lot lately are the terrible tragedies surrounding peer ostracizing of gays amongst our nation’s youth, which I simply cannot understand. I can’t ever remember being straight-out evil to anyone growing up, even when I was a teenager (although my sister would probably disagree).

I often think of social patterns, and using tangible sewing patterns seems to lend itself so easily to these abstracts. This piece includes the word “between” from a vintage thesaurus, a part from the Spanish/English dictionary showing “masculine” and “feminine” under the heading ‘abstract notions’…


Detail from the center of the piece


.. the words “curiosity was aroused” and “an interesting clue” from an old Nancy Drew book next to a skirt/apron illustration from good housekeeping, pink thread and red yarn tied around a bit of twine that makes me think of hair clipping keepsakes. I often wonder if we’ll look back on this era as a modern dark age with the hope that humanity evolves soon.


"Between", mixed media on 5x7" canvas

P.S. I just found out that it’s National Coming Out Day. Sometimes I think when I’m making art I tap into the universal consciousness. For instance, check out the piece I made on 9/11 that ended up being about those issues though I didn’t realize it was 9/11 until I was doing my blog post. Spooky awesome!


Jeggings and flannel and stirrups, oh my!

"Make one's fortune", a mixed media mini painting on 5x7" canvas.

Day 259: Make One’s Fortune

Ah, the mixed media minis. Sitting down to make one after being away from them for a few days is like putting on a nice warm sweater I’ve been waiting to wear all summer and now it’s finally cool enough (which is not yet the case out here in scorching hot Sacramento, btw). I sometimes miss my cool Bay Area weather. But I do not miss the retarded traffic out there.

In other news, I think I witnessed my first pair of “jeggings” in the wild today. It was nearly a driving hazard. They were almost shiny/slightly white, stretched tight and clinging for dear life to some lady’s leg flesh, so at first I thought “oh wow, she’s totally wearing nylons with no pants”, but then I saw the jeans “stitching” or whatever craziness it is that’s pretending to be stitching. Wrong. All wrong. As is the resurgence of flannel (we all did that back in our Nirvana days, thankyouverymuch) and stirrups. STIRRUPS! *Waits for fashion industry to stretch out its hand* <Slap!> And do you know where I saw these atrocities? Lane Bryant. Elastic-footed thin pants for large ladies are pretty much as bad as jeggings… which they were also selling there. I DO NOT APPROVE.

Today’s piece is a mixed media mini painting with (surprise!) vintage sewing patterns, a bit from an old Spanish/English dictionary with “make one’s fortune” on it, and an illustration of a boy and girl in smashing plaid jumpers. I used liquid watercolor, oil pastel, sewing notions and a bit of wire casing plus a little paint to play up the colors in the pattern and the idea of 3-D (red/green glasses) and storytelling. As I prepare to head south for the Bravo casting call, I find that part of me is still cranky and resentful about the way adults present adulthood to children. I think we all grow up expecting our own fairytales to unfold in some way or another and have to learn how to cope with our own bitterness when that doesn’t quite work out. Then again, I can’t imagine having the gumption to look at sweet little faces like these and tell it like it is.