I have been working with memories of land formations and geographic features this week. One of the pieces I worked on is called, “Sand Dune” and it is an abstracted version of a sand dune I climbed in Michigan. I have been working with oil pastel on top of a foundation of vine charcoal for a few weeks now. Yesterday I bought some watercolor pencils to add into the mix but I haven’t attempted to mix the oil-based and water-based materials yet. To my surprise and delight the oil pastel mixed media works seem to be coming together to form a body of work. For the first time in a long time my work has a flow to it that taps on intuition and expression in a way that I enjoy very much. This is something I can continue with for a while and I can't wait to see the series all together in a gallery space. I intend to continue to work with mixed media, trying the watercolor pencil as a contrasting element with the oil pastels and vine charcoal. Often, I teach my classes projects that incorporate crayon with water resist so I think the teaching is an influence. With spring break from teaching coming up soon, it seems as though I need to visit some of these land formations and geographic features in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan that are fueling my work. Stay tuned! This is “Sand Dune,” and it is 9” x 12” done using oil pastel and mixed media.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Lately I’ve been craving a good storm. I don’t want it to pose danger to anyone but for someone reason I need a storm. It already feels like spring or really like summer though it is not yet Ostara. You can do such potent magical things with Lightning Water but you need a strong storm to be able to collect the water. In my book, “Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones,” I write a lot about proper collection of the different types of waters for magickal intentions and found during my research that I was especially fascinated by some West African collection techniques of the Ibo people. I was looking through my things and noticing that I still have some Tennessee Lightning water sent by a good friend who is very spiritual. I wonder how potent it is now? It is bottled in a brown bottle so it probably has maintained much of its power and I know it was sent with good intentions. I need to make some powerful changes in my environment and have a good feeling that I need fresh Lightning Water to spark these changes. For now, we are promised rain and a storm near my area but it has not materialized. I call this drawing “Warm Front Meets Cold Front,” for obvious reasons. It is designed to work as a charm to conjure a storm.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
I have been continuing to go through my sketchbook and repurposing my blind contour garden sketches. It’s funny how something you did so long ago can be pertinent and useful today. This particular sketch had a strong suggestion of landscape in its foundation. As I developed it and worked into it with oil pastels I began to focus on remembering vacations in Wisconsin. There are incredible geographic land formations in Wisconsin and I am attracted to the powerful forces of Mother Nature that created them. I thought quite heavily about the Driftless regions of Wisconsin and the Kettle Moraines as I worked on this drawing. It was a respite from life to work on this and it took quite a bit of time, working during multiple sessions. I call this “The Driftless,” named after the driftless region in Wisconsin. It stands as a reminder of the power of Mother Earth to continuously transform and impact our world.
Monday, March 12, 2012
This mixed media drawing is called “Storm Moon,” named after this month’s full moon. I observed her in her full glory and saw a halo of multi-colored lights around her giving Storm Moon an eerie glow. True to her name, it has been a stormy time, punctuated by deadly tornadoes and storms; some hitting portions of Illinois and surrounding regions. I have been watching the footage of the destruction from the tornadoes and I’m pretty sure it is the source of this abstracted imagery in this drawing. There is a feeling of arrested movement to this piece and while many things are topsy-turvy, there are also peaceful sanctuaries where there is safety yet it is all unpredictable. In the drawing, there is structure within the destruction that offers hope. I am not fond of drastic changes and I can only imagine and empathize with those who were victimized by the storms. I am relating to this Storm Moon heavily because I feel big changes afoot in the weather and in my life.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
One of the recurring themes in my art is looking at life with the eyes of a child. I try to feed my inner child inspiration and nurture her so she is always with me, alive and healthy. I remember in grad school at UCSD I did very large oil on canvas that was strongly rectangular about playing jacks as a girl with my cousins in Montclair. There are balloons in the background and a large brown hand in the foreground is throwing jacks in the air. It is mostly a red painting. I equate red with fun and excitement. Now I am working with a very oily material that I can layer up on paper—Sennelier Oil Pastels. They were a gift and what a gift! I love that set of pastels but at first found them on the overwhelming side. I find them much easier to work with using an actual oil pastel pad as the support. I typically work with them for a while and then put them back away so they last so I’ve had them over a year now. Lately I’ve been incorporating them with chalk pastel pencil which is a slightly tricky technique but it creates very interesting densities and textures. The other theme I like incorporating into my work is movement—I think there is an animator or filmmaker living deep inside me whose only escape is within my paintings and drawings. I enjoyed so many rides down winding, hilly country roads and would often have a pinwheel with me, hanging it out the window. This drawing brings together the idea of movement with the inner child. It is called Pinwheel and it is a nostalgic look back at those road trips to the Jersey Shore and elsewhere.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Learned the meaning of a new word that I’ve seen kicking around—upcycling. Apparently, it is taking something that is ready for the rubbish heap and turning it into something more valuable than it originally was. Since I starting this blog old sketchbooks have been turning up in my life and I have been studying my older work. The most recent sketchbook contains blind contour, vine charcoal sketches of my garden, which are 9” x 12”. I usually do them as exercises to increase my hand eye coordination and as a right brain exercise—leaving it at that, hoping it will prove useful in terms of increasing my skills as I develop on my journey. I found one of these drawings that were fleshed out in color and it gave me the idea to turn them all into mixed media full color abstractions. This image I am posting today is an upcycled drawing that began as vine charcoal on paper, in black and white. It is now done with vine charcoal, pastel pencils and oil pastels. It remains landscape-like in orientation and overall effect but now it delights in organic shape and expressive line as well as expressive color. Just as these drawings are in a state of transition so too is my art generally. I’m going from very precise renderings for mandala art to much more free-styled, expressive abstractions. It feels like sweet release! Looking forward to making these sketches larger and finishing them on canvas. Meanwhile, I plan to go through this entire found sketchbook of blind contours and upcycle each one instead of having them languish in nothingness and dust.
Friday, March 2, 2012
Even though I live in the suburbs it is pretty urban here as I am right on the border of the city of Chicago. My little urban garden suffers the ills and blessings of being near the expressway. The blessing is the garden itself; I have seen people stop and pause next to it, as it offers a respite so close to the expressway. The other wonderful blessing is that it is visited by many birds including birds of prey attracted to the expressway possibly because it is very canyon-like. The ills of an urban garden are obvious. Trash blows all too frequently into its small space adding clutter. This particular drawing from my sketchbook reminds me of the blessings and curses of my urban garden. There seems to be trash blowing about in this drawing, landing in odd positions but there is also beauty in color, shape and texture, just as these contrasting elements exist in the actual space of the garden. Even though it is not spring yet, I enjoy the spring-like colors in this sketch and in some of the debris that has landed within it. I do have flowers coming up in the garden—Glory of the Snow, for one, is in full bloom. I love that little plant because it is a sure reminder that spring is right around the corner.