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

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. 

Digital Panhandling

Day 251: Navigation

I’m gearing up for the City Art Gallery show in SF this October, where I’ll be filling my wall space with minis. 5×7” canvases and wood block paintings, to be exact, so I restocked on the former and am enjoying getting back to some “painting” (i.e. mixed media on canvas). I’m still working on the companion piece to the sculpture from Day 237 and a couple of custom dog costumes. And to top that off, I just received the casting call email notice for Season 2 of “Work of Art” on Bravo! It entails a long questionnaire, printing photos of nearly all my work from January on (did I mention it’s Day 251?), compiling those into a binder and also putting them on to a disk… by September 19th.

The rub is that I don’t know how I’m going to make it down to LA and back without the money for gas, hotel and food. So, devoted art fan and blog reader, here’s where you come in. If this blog has brought you giggles/eye candy/a convenient target for mockery over the last 9 months, and you think I might bring you more of that if chosen to be on an art competition reality show, I would sincerely appreciate a donation. (See that yellow “donate” button on the side of the blog there? No? You get this in your email? Then go to artproject2010.info and check it out there.) Or better yet, head on over to my etsy shop and buy some art! I’m a major proponent of affordable art, so lots of pieces are currently available for $25 or less.

Today’s piece is a mixed media painting on mini canvas titled “navigation”. It features a clipping from a vintage thesaurus, vintage sewing patterns, and a rad little illustration from a 1958 children’s book. And if you can’t make a donation right now, do me a favor and please don’t feel bad about it. I see donation requests often that I wish I could participate in but just can’t, so I understand. 🙂 A big thank you to the couple of people who have made donations already! See you tomorrow!

"Navigation", a mixed media piece on 5x7" canvas

And everything nice

Day 243: Identity

On my recent 50-cent item spree at the thrift store (a bag full of art supplies for $2.50 ain’t half bad), I picked up a lovely pocket thesaurus. While not as thick as my coveted dictionaries, I still find the aged yellow pages intriguing and today I chose “identity” to go along with the “dust and spirit” hymnal snippet.

In the spirit of “immortelle” from day 239, I wanted to use some sewing notions and other bits for this companion piece, so I tied a knitting illustration and bit of lace to the canvas with blue yarn. I also added a bit of drafting film with gesso imprint, and colored over the sewing pattern ground with blue watercolor and some white acrylic paint.

Identity with Immortelle

For me, there’s something contemplative and interesting about the combination of the symbols- patterns, knitting, the many names for identity, “dust and spirit” together, the feminine bits tied up with the blue… It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I like it. Just can’t particularly explain why. 🙂

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

Day 150: Luminary


1. An object, such as a celestial body, that gives light.

2. A person who is an inspiration to others.

3. A person who has achieved eminence in a specific field.

I love dictionaries. When I saw the word “luminary”, I immediately thought of fancy lanterns from Pier One. I never cease to be amused by the written/alternate definitions of words, the words that have fallen out of speech, and the words other languages have for things that English has no equivalent for.

Today’s mixed media painting on 8×10” canvas includes a dictionary page, illustration from a vintage sewing pattern and the patterns themselves and a paragraph from a pocket atlas about the earth’s surface. I used acrylic paint, watercolor and oil pastel. The word “valour” written on was selected with that same flip-through-the-Iliad method from yesterday. It was fun to make.

I used to wonder how some painters could make tons of the same type of painting. But I see how I could make oodles of these mixed media things without getting bored. Then again, I know I’d have to mix it up with other things from time to time. I’m about the bust the cityscapes back out in preparation for the July show at City Art Gallery, so stay tuned!

Luminary, a mixed media painting on 8x10" canvas

Day 143: C & D

Today's paintings are brought to you by the letters C & D!

I’m trying this new weight loss technique I just made up where every time I want to eat something I shouldn’t, I imagine my mom pinching me on the underside of my upper arm. You know, that tender area that bruises easy and smarts something awful. I haven’t been on the receiving end of one of them in a long time, thankfully, but the memory of the pain is strong enough to have deterred me from chocolate at least a couple of times so far.

C is for Cheery!

Detail shot of C

Also, I find that if I’m in the studio all day working on lots of art, I spend less time meandering into the kitchen. That brings us to these two pieces. I started with a base of vintage sewing patterns and used them to create shapes. Then I did most of the color with acrylic and topped it off with a bit of oil pastel. Two letter forms ended up standing out- a C and a.. D? N? I’m going with D. They’re nice and bright and lovely, if I do say so myself. They almost make me feel better about my Sharks getting swept in Round 3….almost.

D is for Dazzling!

Detail shot of D

Today, C stands for “choked” as in “my Sharks choked in the playoffs” and D stands for “done” as in “my Sharks are done until next season”. 😦 On the bright side, none of you will have to hear me yammer about them again until like.. October. Lucky you! Have a great week.

Day 141: Patterns

'Patterns', a mixed media painting on canvas

If you didn’t notice, they had an INTERACTIVE PacMan game up on the Google homepage today. I was in my studio this morning when tell-tale video game blip-bleep noises beckoned me to the office, where I kicked Rob out of the chair and wasted a good half hour dusting off my childhood gamer skills. I estimate that massive amounts of work hours worldwide were lost to this clever commemoration of PacMan’s 30th anniversary. Except for the people who didn’t realize that they could use their direction pad to gobble ghosts, who are going to be totally bummed out when they hear about it tomorrow.

Seeing that PacMan is 30 made me think of how 1980 is now 30 years ago (crazy!), how I am a lot closer to my 30’s than my 20’s (I’m only 2 years younger than PacMan), and how interesting it is that the paper bits I used in my painting today are older than that by a couple decades or more.

Detail shot

Today’s painting on a 9”x12” canvas features a colorful, abstracted landscape with a bit of retro flavor. Using vintage sewing patterns and book pages, I layered colored glazes in acrylic and oil pastel for the “fields” and “sky” and edged them with charcoal for contrast. With layers of printed information behind the image of manicured acres of agriculture, “Patterns” was inspired by the increasing awareness of organic food safety and natural health concerns I’ve experienced and that I’m also seeing in others.

Happy Birthday to my cousin Jaclyn, an amazing young woman and teacher! Have a great Friday night, everyone.