Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Acrylics on canvas panel, 9x12 inches
I created this piece a month or so ago, the last time I was focusing on neutral colors. 

We're having a heatwave on the North Coast.  It's already 79 degrees in Fortuna (up at the little airport near where I live) and it's not yet 10am.  Going for 89 today.  That's REALLY hot for here.  I've already got all the windows open and two fans set on high. 

I'm working on a painting project that's been on the back burner for a year.  Finally, on Monday, I jumped right into it.  Will post on Sunday.

My intention is to paint more.  Because why not?  What am I waiting for?  Metaphor for life, of course.

But today I'm having myself a "theater party," watching Malcolm X on DVD.  When I requested it from Netflix, I had no idea (read: didn't remember) that it runs over three hours.  I plan to sit in the cool dark and watch it today.

Just saw a hawk fly by overhead.  One of my neighbors is quite the birder and has been pointing out just how many different birds we have here.  I love birds.  But between you and me, except for the big, obvious ones (ravens, hawks, turkey vultures, egrets), the little ones all look alike to me as they whiz by.  Said neighbor has a camera with 30x zoom and she's been delighting me with images of more birds than I can name at the moment.  All beautiful. 

And speaking of birds...I've got a new zine in the works, featuring bird stamps from around the world.

Enjoy the rest of the week.  xx

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Acrylics, pencil, crayon on canvas panel, 12x16"
"Don't worry about unity from piece to piece.  What unifies all of your work is the fact that you made it."

Love that quote from Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist.  So apropos of me.

So this painting was done for the last lesson of 8 Great Paintings.  The task was to create a collage out of paper, then use that to inspire a painting.  Well, instead of making a new collage, I chose one of the hundreds I did a few years back.  Although Julie (Pritchard, class instructor) used totally different colors in her painting than in her original collage, I pretty much followed the original colorway on mine...because I liked it.  This piece of mine is way more literal than her painting was.  Which is just fine.  I still like mine.

At first I thought I might do a bunch of these, even went through a couple of sketchbooks and marked numerous collages that I thought would make good paintings.  And then I UNdecided to do that.  I'd rather move forward, wherever that is, than look to the past for inspiration.

I'm back to reading novels.  Just finished a terrific book, The Professor of Truth by Scot author James Robertson.  Now reading Russell Banks' The Darling, and loving it.

Hope you're having a good weekend! xx 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pencil It In

Acrylics, crayons and pencil on stretched canvas,
16x10 inches
I pulled this painting out of my imagination the other day.  It's 16 x 20 inches on stretched canvas.  I'm loving including pencil marks and crayons ~ wax or pastel ~ on painted works.

I've experimented a lot recently with pencils and crayons on different surfaces, largely to test whether or not they are waterproof (i.e. whether they bleed or not) under acrylic media.

The white colored pencils I tried all work well and are waterproof on very smooth substrates except for the Stabilo All, which is essentially a watercolor pencil although it's made to use on glass and other impervious surfaces.  None of the white colored pencils work well on canvas textured surfaces.

All of the regular (graphite) pencils work well on virtually any surface, including the  "black" Stabilo All.  Charcoal pencils don't work at all -- meaning they bleed.

I've also tried several brands of pastel pencils, and all work well on smooth surfaces but not well on canvas textured surfaces.  They all break/crush with pressure.

Caran d'Ache Neocolor I crayons are highly-pigmented wax crayons, kind of like Crayola Crayons on steroids.  They work well on all surfaces (there are some Neocolor I orange lines in my painting above) and are waterproof.  The Neocolor II crayons are watercolor crayons.  They can be covered over with medium but will smear a bit.  Of course with water, they disperse their pigment quite readily.

I have a set of Niji Oil Pastels that I love.  Not only are the least expensive (set of 36 from Blick for under $7.00), but they're fairly creamy so I like them a lot for use on paintings.  Oil pastels in general can be fixed with acrylic medium; chalk pastels cannot be.  You must use spray fixative for the latter, which, like regular spray paint, I hate using.  Caran d'Ache NeoPastels are also good, although they're more expensive and I personally don't like them as much as the Niji's.  However, where the Niji color line is lacking, I've filled in my palette with the NeoPastels.  I've also tried the Sakura Cray-Pas pastels but find they are too hard, so they require way too much pressure to get anywhere near the color load of the Niji's or the NeoPastels.

I'm reading, among everything else, Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon.  Short, wonderful, quirky, inspiring. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Days Later

Acrylics on stretched canvas, 11x14 inches
This is my painting for lesson 7 of 8 Great Paintings.  It was another opportunity to work with the "heavy on the bottom" format, which is actually rather challenging.  It's difficult to see here, but the bottom has wonky circles etched into the dark paint, with red underneath.  Click on the photo to enlarge it.

This piece is 11x14 inches on stretched canvas.  I had another start for this lesson, on 12x12 inch canvas board, but after numerous unsuccessful redo's, I threw out the panel.

Onto the next, which will be the last lesson for this online class.  Then I'm going to go it on my own for a while.  I've got all the techniques I need, I just have to paint.  But if I don't do it or do it often enough (whatever that is), no pressure ~ I'll do what I do when I do it.  The reality is, once or twice a week I have the inspiration to paint, so that's when I've been doing it.  Not pushing myself otherwise.

I started reading A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn.  It's quite enlightening to read about this country, its founding and development since the get-go based nearly exclusively on pretexts, its abhorrent treatment of anyone who wasn't (isn't) white and rich...

Just reread Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin.  This book was one of my early inspirations for off-the-grid (metaphorically), under-the-radar living.  Another early influence was Ordinary People As Monks and Mystics by Marsha Sinetar.  I also recently read for the second time Wallace Stegner's novel, Crossing to Safety, his last book, written six years before his death in 1993.  A really beautiful book.

I'm truly enjoying these summer days.  Making the most out of each one.  Hope you're having lovely days as well.  xx

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Heaven is NOW

Acrylics, vintage and painted papers, cardboard on
canvas panel, 11x14 inches
This is the other piece for that recent painting lesson ~ 11x14 inches on canvas panel.

Rather than titling this post "Wordless Wednesday," my news is that there's not much to say.

As I meander farther into silence and solitude, I'm gradually detaching myself from "being" my story.  And from letting that illusory story guide and direct my conversations, those both inside my head and out.

I no longer have the energy for overreaction borne of aversion to anything and everything beyond life as it really is.  I'm not interested now in verbal jousting, self-justification, defensive posturing, ego-driven oneupsmanship.  So much of our conversation is about propping ourselves up, propping our egos up, actually.  When you take all that away, what it all boils down to is that there isn't much left to say.  And nothing to complain about.  Life just is what it is.  No amount of complaining or worrying or teeth-gnashing or ceaseless story telling has ever changed anything.

What I'm doing in lieu of all those habitual thought patterns is spending as much time each day as I can in conscious awareness of the moment ~ feeling it, relishing it, loving it, sensing my connection, making the most of it, getting all the joy I can from it.  Especially because nothing lasts.  This particular blissful time won't last forever ~ it will be followed by future blissful moments, but not this one specifically.  Everything keeps changing ~ I'm sure you've noticed.  You can't step twice into the same stream, as some Zen master once said.  Appreciate it now...because it'll soon vanish.

Am I getting too airy-fairy for you?  I hope not.  Heaven is NOW. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Essential Silence

Acrylics, vintage paper, cardboard on canvas panel, 12x12"
This is one of two paintings I did for lesson 6 of 8 Great Paintings.

The alpha-numerics, the dots and the diamonds were created with spray paint over stencils on deli paper.  I've wanted to do this for eons but I detest using spray paint because of its noxious fumes.  I tried every other thing I could think of ~ including spraying ink, spraying high-flow acrylics and/or thinned fluid acrylics, using a wide marker over stencils, daubing paint over stencils, and probably something else I can't recall at the moment, anything short of investing in an airbrush system ~ but in the end, I bit the bullet.  Because nothing else worked.

So I bought a can of spray paint recently, put on a dust mask, worked outside one morning before the wind came up, and finished the entire can of paint making sheets of collage fodder.  There.  Done with.  Likely won't have to do ever again.  As I sprayed each sheet of deli paper, I put blank sheet over the top of the stencil and brayered over it with my hands, so I have an equal number of reverse images.

Made my first cheesecake of the year yesterday.  Haven't broken into it yet, but will, for breakfast this morning.  Here's the recipe, if you didn't get it last year.

I've really been indulging my love of crossword puzzles lately.  For years I've been doing the weekly Los Angeles Times Sunday puzzle, which I get online.  Recently I decided to buy a book of New York Times Sunday puzzles, but when I got the book (from Amazon), the paper was so crappy and the text was so microscopic, that I returned the book right away.  Meanwhile, I found another link online, the Wall Street Journal's Friday puzzle, and now I'm downloading two a week.  The WSJ puzzles are especially challenging, and I've printed them out back through the start of 2014.

Saw two French films that I liked a lot, via Netflix ~ Incendies, and Queen to Play.  Watching 1864 online (when I am online), a Danish historical miniseries.  There's a group of a dozen or so Danish film/TV actors that I've been following, who show up in pretty much everything that's produced from there.

The post title, essential silence, refers to the skillful practice of speaking only when necessary and of responding appropriately.  One of the reasons I prefer to be alone so much and why I don't like talking on the phone very much, is that I don't like mindless speech, i.e. talking just for the sake of hearing oneself speak.  I'd rather talk less and have what I have to say when I do speak be honest and authentic.  Especially after a lifetime of overreaction and verbal spewing.

Hope you have a great week.  xx   

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Off Schedule

Acrylics on canvas panel, 11x14 inches
I kinda got off my schedule of being online Wednesday and Sunday.  The important thing, though, is that I'm online as little as possible each week, and occasionally things get out of whack.  This will likely be my only post between now and next Sunday.

Here's another recent painting, 11 x 14 inches on canvas panel.  In response to my recent post about my liking to work on hard, flat surfaces, a reader asked about how I would present paintings on canvas panels.  That is a problem, actually, because I'm not keen at this point on framing paintings.  And obviously work done on stretched canvas, even the 3/4" to 7/8" traditional canvases, can be hung right on the wall sans frame.

I have a line on some inexpensive (read: cheap) plastic drop-in frames available at Michaels, should I decide to sell any of my paintings on canvas board.  Those frames are black and add only a very narrow border around the panel, plus they can be hung vertically or horizontally.  If I could find really narrow wood frames somewhere, I'd use them instead.  Making narrow frames out of slats is too much of a hassle for me to do myself now, although I like the way they look around paintings.  Another problem with framing thin panels is there's got to be a lip of wood over the front of the painting to hold the panel in.  If anybody knows where to get really narrow (quarter inch border) wood frames cheaply online, please let me know.

Meanwhile, I decided to begin working on cradled panels, which are hard, flat, and built right onto a wood frame.  They're definitely more pricey than canvas board, but considering that the latter need to be framed, I suppose the cradled panels really aren't any more expensive in the long run.

Sometime in the last ten days I pulled apart a journal that I made a year and a half to two years ago.  I never liked it, particularly because I'd used cold press watercolor paper to make Gelli prints on, and they didn't turn out nearly as well as they would have if I'd used hot press (flat rather than pebbled) paper.  Anyhow, I ended up with a batch of little booklets to give away and a few postcards.  Another recycling job with good results.

Have a great week.  xx

Friday, July 3, 2015

Inside Job

My all-time favorite YouTube video ~ Enjoy!

Happiness is an inside job. It isn't related to anything external to us (new job, new car, new home, new relationship et al., nor whether or not we get what we want or expect out of life, or whether people act the way we think they should).  Happiness is a decision we each make (or not), it's a place to come from, a ground of being, an internal attitude through which to filter everything in life that shows up.  Nothing is important enough to destroy one's happiness over.  Everything is impermanent, including us.  Don't be attached to anything ~ experience it while it's happening, then let it all go.  It's all just life learning, no judgment necessary.  We're all just practicing and growing and finding our way back home again.

Have a great weekend, and a safe one if you're in the States.  xx

p.s.  About the video ~ Robert Dollwet is an animal trainer who used to live in Malibu, during which time he trained animals for Hollywood.  Now he lives in Queensland.  His famous cat, Didga, is a rescued kitty that he trained.  You can learn more about him, Didga, and his videos and tutorials here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Time Marches On...

Acrylics on canvas panel, 12x12 inches
Halfway through 2015 already...and now we're into the quicker-moving half.  Remember when a year felt like a lifetime, when we were kids?  Now the weeks fly by.  Once a month I'm in Eureka now, yet it feels like merely a couple of weeks between trips. 

Anyhoo, this is a painting a really like, done for 8 Great Paintings lesson 5, 12 x 12 inches on canvas panel.  I really like working on hard flat surfaces, like panels.  Although the better-quality canvases (Blick Premier), which I'm buying these days, are a big improvement over the cheaper stretched canvases (some of which I still have left over from my art quilting days that I'm slowly using up).

Of the several movies watched recently, my two favorite were Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks, which I thought was surprisingly great, and Welcome, a French movie about a Kurdish refugee trying to swim the English Channel.  Netflix recently got The Bridge Season 2, which I'll soon be watching.  This is the Danish-Swedish crime drama that I saw the first season of recently.

Other than that, it's pretty quiet on the western front.  Gray cloudy mornings, warm sunny afternoons, and not much change in sight.  It's all good.  xx