Monthly Archives: January 2010

“In the Realm of the Muses”

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10 x 10 inches on cradled wood substrate.  Watercolor, polymer clay, wall spackle, acrylic, oil pastel.

“In the Realm of the Muses,”  a peace symbol on her forhead and a dragonfly at her breast which is hovering over another female face.  The backgroud is an old watercolor painting (which has been resting in a drawer for many years) suggestive of an open door, but chaos surrounds the door, and the moon rests in the upper left corner.  She holds a key in her mouth.  She is a warrior and her secrets are many. I feel like I’m reading a tarot card!  Maybe I am!  A symbol of my own creative desires, struggles, and occasional triumph.  The dragon fly, which I recently found tucked in a letter, was given to me some time ago by a very dear lady who always gave me such genuine approval, and support.  I knew as soon as I found it that it was no accidental finding, and I knew it was the perfect symbol for this muse!

Birds on Monday

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Yesterday there were so many birds out, it was amazing.  They were in all the trees, flying in and out, and the robins were right in front of my window upstairs walking and taking sips of water from the gutters where the snow had melted.  I didn’t even think to take a photo, but I did sketch (not very well) some sparrows as they flitted about sitting still for only a few seconds.  The sky was heavy gray but they didn’t seem to mind, the snow was in a stage of melt and there were lots of puddles, too cold for jumping in, but good for long drinks.  I miss seeing more birds here, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of birds, even when I put out feeders.  I see the blue jays who drive all the others away so I don’t put them out anymore.  When I lived in California on the central coast there were always birds around.  I loved the mockingbirds who sang in the evenings from a huge and ancient Cecile Brunner rose bush that had a trunk like a tree and grew over the top of our porch.  I think that mockingbird loved that rose bush as much as I did!  In our temperate coastal clime it bloomed year round with hundreds of perfect one inch roses shaped like miniature tea roses.  I miss that place so much, but sometimes life moves us around where we never meant to find ourselves.  I was so caught up back then with the busy-ness of life with children, I never realized I would never be able to go back again to that geographical landscape.  I take my own responsibility for leaving, and now I’ve learned you really can’t go back and be careful what you wish for is really true.

 Here is a photo of the bundle I hung out at the beginning of the month.  We’ve had such rainy and snowy weather this month the little packet is already beginning to age quite nicely.  I hope that metal sewing machine part will rust some, it will make a great addition to the final art piece I am planning!  Note the hands on this one instead of legs like last years, they look as if they are planning on flying upward! 

 In the meantime, I do believe change is always possible.  The above business card-size painting of the place I need to return to, done a few years ago when I first began painting again and could only manage very tiny paintings, look how that has changed!

So much for January Journals

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My first real collage — I think it is called “Woman.”  12×12″ canvas, acrylic, found objects, hand drawn artwork, trash.

I only managed five pages, six if you count the double spread.  I can’t do a page a day.  It requires more thinking to put these together than one would think.  I took a break from journal pages, and created my first “collage this last week,” other than journal pages collage. I thought I could whip this out in a day or so, but found it has taken me the entire week.  I guess I will never bear the title “prolific.”  This is on a 12″ square canvas and I used things I found,what I often call “pocket trash,” including many little items that most people would toss in the trash.  I purchased a little plastic box full of little things from my favorite online Flea Market , www.MantoFev.com which always has an array of small items good for mixed media.  I also added used dryer sheets, cardboard packaging from the inside of my new camera – a New Year’s gift from my daughter and her husband.  My old one was beginning to have issues about focusing the whole composition, and I began calling it Hal.  Hal seemed to be developing an aversion for seeing the whole picture, so to speak, and wanted instead to focus on one small corner, or the entire top half or vice versa, but the rest would be totally out of focus.  Hal may have seen it as art, I saw it as frustration on my side of the lens, and arogance on his.  So he has retired in his original box with all his extras and I am becoming best friends with my new Sony Cyber-shot W220, a point and shoot, but its lovely and focused and doesn’t mind incandescent lighting, and doesn’t seem to have a dark side as Hal did, so I am getting these very warm and intimate  shots of things and I kind of like it.  I know Iwill never be a photographer – I know that.  I know nothing about f-stops or any of that other technical stuff.  All I want is to be able to take simple but well focused photos of my art projects, plus an occasional snap of my friend, Cookie Moon every now and then.  So anyway I failed on the page a day journal plan.  I figure if I can get 4 or 5 pages completed from each month, I would have a nice big bunch to put together at the end of the year and I could put together an art journal  for 2010.  February will be pink.  I have been drawing every day, which I had let go by the wayside this last year.  I have hung out a new Disintegration Bundle which I plan to take down on May Day and I will make another piece from what I have left after the winter.  Even my neighbor has put a bundle together and hung it in her tree.  I love this!  Getting people involved in art.  She doesn’t think I am strange at all, maybe because she is a little “strange” herself — we recognize each other, and we know its okay!  I want to thank Roxanne at www.RiverGardenStudio.wordpad.com.  She suggested I could try doing collage because I was having trouble going back to painting – and she was so right on.  It is easier than a full painting, and the process of collage is very engaging and almost soothing.  Thanks Roxanne!

“In winter all the singing…”

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I finished this journal page yesterday, but it doesn’t really seem finished.  I’ve been thinking about getting back to more painting on canvas – its just been so long now, not sure where to begin.  I have two unfinished paintings from last year, but not sure if that’s the right place to jump in right now.  Why am I feeling so unsteady about this?  I suspect I know why, but the ego of it is too spectacular to even acknowledge.

I put together a new disintegration bundle last week and hung it out in the tree I can see from my studio window.  A couple of neighbors have asked me about it, since it hangs in the front yard (I’ll get a good picture of it tomorrow – its too dark now), my neighbors think I am strange anyway.   I told them it was “art,”  and there were exchanged looks  and an awkward pause.   I was smiling, I swear, but not explaining much.

I am moving slowly through this month of January – wishing it were spring and the days were longer again, but at the same time I  like this quiet that comes with winter, and ‘all the singing is in the tree tops.’  Below is the mysterious poem about winter by Mary Oliver.

White-Eyes

by Mary Oliver

In winter

    all the singing is in

         the tops of the trees

             where the wind-bird

 with its white eyes

    shoves and pushes

         among the branches.

             Like any of us

 he wants to go to sleep,

    but he’s restless—

         he has an idea,

             and slowly it unfolds

 from under his beating wings

    as long as he stays awake.

         But his big, round music, after all,

             is too breathy to last.

 So, it’s over.

    In the pine-crown

         he makes his nest,

             he’s done all he can.

 I don’t know the name of this bird,

    I only imagine his glittering beak

         tucked in a white wing

The Secret of Winter (January Journal)

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  If there is a secret of winter, it must surely be to ‘wait.’  I have learned throughout my life to wait – somethings I wait a little too long for and then expectations are dissappointed, I take responsibility for this ability to wait too long.  It takes time to grow up, but not so very long to grow old.  As children we were driven to grow up and cramped by the waiting and some of us may have pushed it too fast – another kind of secret.  It is easier to be patient as we grow older, finally learning there is a kind of reward in the waiting itself – just like winter. 

This has been my nicest January since I can remember;always in the past that terrible let down of “everything” being over and now nothing to do but clean up and stare into the grey face of countless winter days.  This January appears to be different…  Not only am I graced with another January, which is no smallish thing, but my eyes are seeing possibilities in small things again.  I am thinking visually again, and not just agonizingly practical – that doesn’t even make any sense, except that it does.  The heart of me may have some imperfections in the core structure, may not be perfect, but it is strong, and it is true, more true now than at any other time in my life.  I am graced by this winter of 2010 like no other winter I have known. ( I sing a little evensong over every day.)

Perhaps I should say a few words about this double page spread.  I am making a Journal of January on loose paper called Bogus Rough.  It is very rough brown paper comes in a 9×12 in tablet.  As usuall I gessoed all the pages front and back because you never know what you may want to do with a particular page.  On this layout, I painted with acrylics, then I covered that up with oil pastels and some richly pigmented colored pencils.  I used my own drawings from an old sketch book for the two ladies, one represents the moon, and the other the sun (as in return of the) and she sits honored in a glorious silver frame with the word secret hand engraved, and wearing the image of the sun as a hat on the front of her head. I put a sketchy house shape in the background near the moon woman, the one wearing the image of the moon on her head, but I wanted lots of snow to be on the ground and so left a lot of white areas.  On the moon side is a butterfly which I fitted together by cutting onion skins into the right shapes and then glued them down -I liked the veins in onion skins as veins in a wing.  The transformation thing I suppose. The needlework bird on the sun lady side was a found object I found at the goodwill and I cut it from its permanent frame so I could sew it to my page over a Tarot card which shows a female figure riding through the snow on a reindeer with a butterfly over her head.  These images all seem to be telling some little secret of winter that when told together equals a rather grand statement!  Winter is mysterious!

January Journal – Labels

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“Ordinary eyes categorize human beings” — (Rumi)

   These long January nights give me too much time to reflect on the past.  I recently found a few of my grade school report cards,  and reading through the teacher’s remarks, I see that I was labeled as “quiet,” even to the point that one year a teacher labeled me  as “withdrawn.”  I do remember seeing those words as a child and the worry about myself those words invented, worse still, my mother agreed with the teacher in her parental response.  Naturally I began to believe there was something wrong with me and I viewed myself through those words until my junior year in high school when one of my teachers “re-labled” me as “creative,” which finally gave me permission to accept who I am without misgiving.  I have come to love winter, although I love summer and fall more, I at last, understand the mysterious secrets of winter.