I just can’t explain it

I started this piece when the first freeze came and I knew I wouldn’t get any more blooms.  It was supposed to be about me holding too hard onto summer, but then it kept asking for revisions (artwork does talk to you) and it became about something else — acceptance, deterioration,  rebirth — so many metaphors swirled around and defied explanation.  After a month of working on it off and on, it’s finally finished.

I finally figured it all out I just can’t explain it, 8×10″ mixed media on canvas

What do you think?


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A Bird Told Me

Yesterday I got a chance to work on art almost all day long.  It was a rare event and I savored it.  When I was working on my illustrations for the video Never Going Back to the Gravity by Mad July, I didn’t have time to work on my own illustrations, but I still worked in my journal.  I write in the morning and sketch when I get the chance.

In March there were a few times when I was in meetings or on a long bus ride and I got to do some stream of consciousness sketches.   It was interesting to me to see how little scribbles turned into visual narratives of a sort.  There was  no set direction and no goal.  A different sort of energy comes into play than what would happen if I was drawing from life where I get super focused and aware of the world around me.  In these, I became more aware of the world within me.

Three of them, I am developing into painting.  All of them speak to reconnection with the natural world.  This one became the painting I posted last week:

Pencil and colored pencil
Spring Redemption

 This one:

Became this new painting:

A Bird Told Me, watercolor, ink, pencil, colored pencil on 300 lb Arches paper treated with absorbent ground gesso

These drawings and paintings helped me move forward a bit with my art.  The Spring Redemption painting took three tries to get the face the way I wanted.  After the first try failed, I decided to paint over it with Daniel Smith’s absorbent ground gesso.  It covered the first painting fairly well although there was still a shadow.  When I painted, though, the paint bleed outside the lines I had drawn.  It was not a happy accident.  I don’t mind loosening up when the watercolor won’t let me have my way, but I wanted subtle use of color.  I got a fresh piece of Arches Paper and everything went well the third time around.

The paper that failed me got another 2 coats of absorbent ground.  I purposely made brush strokes for texture.  Since I knew the paint might bleed, I paid attention to edges and stopped before I reached them and let the paint settle.  It mostly happened with very wet applications. 

I painted the dress of the woman in real lapis lazuli paint from Daniel Smith.  It’s a duller blue that ultra marine, but I like that it’s “real,” and provides for me a little history and earthiness to this woman who is listening to nature sing.

The next sketch I’m turning into a painting is a bit more abstract and I’ll show that hopefully next week, if I can keep carving out painting time. 

Life is good.

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Child of the Sky

I did some stream of consciousness drawing this morning — otherwise known as doodling — with my Graphitint pencils.  These are graphite pencils tinted with color that get more vibrant when you add water.  I drew and washed a few colors and this face came alive.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of really beautiful children, the children here in my community, and I’ve learned a lot about their histories — moved from home to home, witnessed violence and murders, and felt the chill of losing loved ones.  Yet here watching them play in their new families, it seems a bit like they dropped out of the sky, full of hope and full of shadows.  Everyone hopes we can give them a real childhood and that Bridge Meadows will provide them with the stability that will help them thrive.  Already we see them growing and learning and playing.

I decided I needed to do series of these sky children and I got some great feedback from fellow artists at my Oregon Womens Caucus for Art meeting today. I will create composite drawings, not actual portraits, and try to capture the spirit I see in children.   The muted color of these pencils seems perfect for the project, especially since it’s often grey and misty in Portland.  The deep often cloudy life of children is rich soulful territory and I remember it well from my own childhood.

This first one is in my watercolor sketchbook.  Tomorrow I’ll start on a bigger, denser piece.  I love it when a stream of thought leads to an entire project.