Day #18, 30x30, Total Immersion

After I've been in Kauai for more than a few days, it's easy to feel like I've been swallowed up, head, heart and hands. Even if I hold back, there are the mountains, the  mist and the sea, beckoning me with their hands out, and slowly drawing me in. Once immersed, I want to stay forever! I'm returning to my sweet home in Davis, California tomorrow, but all of these days will come back in the form of art. And if you'd like to share in the aloha and own one of them yourself, don't hold back! Each piece is $100, mounted on cradleboard, $150 with cradleboard and frame. You can contact me at hkhunterarts.com

Attachment-1(3).jpeg

 

Day #15, 30x30, Talk about blessings!

Attachment-1(5) I'm straying again from my theme of Botanical Dreams, for good reason. This morning our family traveled to one of our favorite beaches to explore. I stopped in front of the crashing waves and offered a short prayer for the day: for protection, for grace and for generosity and walked off towards the lava rocks.

I stopped to put on my Keens, knowing the danger of lava cuts. As I bent to pull on my sandal, a man appeared and began to warn us of the 40 foot waves. My mind took in the information, but as it did, a huge wave flipped me over and dragged me out. There was nothing I could do, but shout for help.

My sister and the gentleman had to wait for the water to go out before they could reach down and pull me to safety. My next thought was for my daughter and her boyfriend who had gone on ahead. I asked the man, who appeared ocean savvy, to go with my husband and find them. Which they did.

But the story wasn't over. My leg was fairly cut up from the lava and my husband also scraped his foot, trying to help. We stopped at a local store for band-aids and Neosporin. My sister, who was still in shock from the incident (as was I) ran in without her wallet. When she got to the cash register, she discovered she'd forgotten her wallet. Another protector emerged in the Australian woman behind her in line, who simply said; "I'll get it." Amy promised to pay it forward.

After two such incidents of grace what can one do but be thankful?

 

Day #14, 30x30, Still Sailing

After a day trip to the south shore of Kauai to visit family (and a delicious meal from my chef cousin), I decided it was time to keep it simple on the 30x30 challenge. A night of aloha can mean a morning of, well, you know! Sometime during the evening, my cousin Mike mentioned that on a clear day, he could see to Oahu. His remark stuck in my mind and manifested in these sailboats that I remember from the Honolulu harbor. FullSizeRender

Day #13, 30x30, Immersed in Blue

I'm fascinated by the way a location alters my approach to collage. The light, landscape and colors all change my choice of images and composition. While this is obvious for a landscape or plein air painter, because so much of my work is studio based, my recent changes in location brought this to my awareness. I began this collage sitting on the airplane, taking pages from the Hawaiian airline magazine. I ripped, folded and politely answered the unspoken question from the passenger seated next to me. A lover and collector of art, he was very understanding.

Yesterday, I made reference to days #9, #10 and #11 of the 30paintingsin30days. For my own vacation sanity, I've decided to create a new page in my portfolio just for the 30x30 challenge. You'll find them there...soon!

Attachment-1(4)

Day #12, 30x30, Flight to Paradise

I took a break from 30x30 over the weekend to begin my Yoga Teacher Training program at Kaya Yoga in Davis. Not making a collage Saturday and Sunday felt like trying to keep my hand out of the proverbial cookie jar. And then, flying to Kauai on Monday, well how can you argue with that? Now, settled in our home away from home, the colors of #12 surround me.

Attachment-1(2)

 

 

Day #8, 30x30, Here comes the sun!

It's all about the weather here as Beatles lyrics run through my mind in a crazy counterpoint."Here comes the sun...and I say, it's alright" is swiftly followed by "Rain, I don't mind. Shine, the weather is fine." * The weather in our Central Valley is equally capricious. Moments of sparkling azure skies cloud over quickly with a gray mist promising rain. It all comes out in the art.

Attachment-1(7)

*Partial lyrics from the songs "Here Comes the Sun," and "Rain" by the Beatles.

Day 7, 30x30, the challenge continues!

The first few days of a challenge are exhilarating. Pictures emerge, I try out different techniques and there is a splendid newness. The real work begins when the shine wears off. Fortunately, there are also dreams. All last night as I alternately slept and woke, the outlines of leaves and flowers arose before my eyes. I recognized this as the blessing it was, grabbed a pencil and paper and began drawing.

Attachment-1(6)

Day 6, 30x30, the storm is here!

Last night, as I lay in bed, wind lashed at the trees, and sheets  of rain streamed down the windows. "California dreaming indeed!," I thought. And as I thought about "Day 6," and what kind of background I might use, I imagined using my gelli plate to print paper with gray droplets and layer the plant forms on top of that. Gray droplets however, soon shifted to aqua skies and a strange amalgam of a lauhala tree* emerged. Keep the rain coming--I'll create the blue skies in my studio!

FullSizeRender(1)

*The lauhala tree is native to Hawaii.

Day 5, 30x30, Into the rain!

Today, I decided to experiment with a background akin to the one outside of my studio: dark, rain soaked and blue gray! I challenged myself to use opaque watercolors on top of the ground, seeing what I could accomplish with layers of paint. I feel that I've made a start and want to investigate further. The delicate nature of the watercolor needs a lighter ground, but I'm game for it, as a much as for a sunny sky--at least for a few minutes. FullSizeRender(10)

Day 4, 30x30, Into the Rain

Finally today, rain, and we here in the West are truly grateful. As I moved about my studio today, cutting small squares of paper into shapes like large wet drops, this poem from my childhood looped through my mind: The rain is raining all around, / It rains on fields and trees, / It rains on the umbrellas here / And on the ships at sea. ---Robert Louis Stevenson

Attachment-1(5)

30 Days, 30 Paintings

It's not often that I take up a challenge like this but when I heard about the 30x30 challenge from my friend Linda Johnson, I clicked and jumped. I want to try exploring collage in a tactile way with luscious mediums, creamy acrylics and pieced together botanical imagery.  My studio for Day 1 is a dining room table in my friend's San Francisco flat. Compact and perfect, it's just blocks away from the SF Botanical Gardens where I'm gathering inspiration.

img_4656

The 30x30 challenge is sponsored by Leslie Saeta. If you have a chance to check it out, there is some amazing work on display. And now, let the wild rumpus begin!

Mixed Media Magic

Attachment-1-2Recently I had an opportunity to teach a master class for the California Art Educator's Association (CAEA), convening in Sacramento for their yearly conference. I'd put together a description for the class months ago when I had some rough ideas of what I might teach. As the time grew closer however, possibilities multiplied like rabbits due to a new book I discovered; Surface Treatment Workshop: Explore 45 Mixed Media Techniques.

Explore I did, buying containers of strange substances and trying them out in the studio. I loved the sound of the different techniques; embossing, embedding, inscribing, faux encaustic.

Attachment-1

How to narrow them all down? I did a beta workshop with willing friends to test out my ideas. They dove into the materials with the zest of people who haven't had a meal in days; paint, papers and gels filled the surface of the ground paper. Shapes were torn, embedded, lines inscribed and we discovered the power of used gift cards.

Finally, I chose 3 techniques that I thought would be easy, inexpensive, adaptable and if carried out, would end up in some pretty great compositions.

The winners? Expired plastic cards to spread paint like a palette knife, gesso washing, embedding, and inscribing as well as a nifty technique  involving two layers of contrasting paint, topped with a sprinkling of water droplets. (Recipe below.)

Attachment-1-1

The only missing ingredient was a volunteer. I prevailed upon my friend and artist, Linda Clark Johnson, to join me for what I promised would be a good time. She graciously accepted and we set off for our art escapade.

A retired art teacher, Linda knows the ways of the educators. She promptly arranged the room into table groups. The conference room quickly filled to the brim with art teachers and their many bags of paint, paper and tools.

I'd never taught a group of teachers before and was delighted to find that as soon as I gave instructions, they dove in with an enthusiasm that was energizing. Table groups mixed, sharing paint and special papers they'd brought, as well as appreciative glances at each others' work.

Attachment-1

I was amazed by the magic that these artists coaxed out of their materials. Although I'd never met any of them previously, looking at the images they'd created, I felt that I knew something about them. And they had acquired some simple tools with which to engage their students artistically and therapeutically.

I like to imagine that they will take these ideas, pop them into their capacious Mary Poppin's bag of tools and share them with their students. Like tiny seeds sprouting, artists will continue to appear.

Water drop recipe courtesy of Linda Clark Johnson

Cover your ground with a brilliant layer of color, allow it to dry, then add an additional layer in a contrasting color. Stick your hand in a bowl of water and sprinkle the wet paint with the droplets, allowing it to sit for several minutes. Finally, wipe the paint with a cloth and the areas covered by water come up revealing a wonderful splash pattern.

When Yellow Leaves Do Hang

Early Morning West Pond, ©2015, Snapseed filters People say that there is no fall in California. That's not true. Fall arrives slowly and takes its sweet time once here. Sometime around mid to late October, the leaves begin to turn--first the sycamores fade bronze, the gingkos go yellow and finally the pistache leaves take off like bottle rockets with scarlet, crimson, pumpkin and wine, lighting up the city parkways with their stationary fireworks.

It's a month that calls for poetry and I was lucky enough to receive one of the most exquisite autumnal poems ever.

I was talking with my father. We spoke about our understanding of retirement. His definition, which I love, is that all retirement means is that you have left behind a salaried job with all the fringe benefits. My father has written five books since he retired as an English professor and, in his early eighties, is wading deep into his sixth. As we ended the conversation, he told me that he wanted to share a poem and began to quote from memory, Shakespeare's sonnet Number 73. I share it with you because it says so much about the season of autumn and the turnings in our lives.

Sonnet 73

That time of year thou may'st in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou see'st the twilight of such day, As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by-and-by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed whereon it must expire Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by. This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Perhaps that is the benefit of retirement. If we are lucky, we burn brightly with all of the colors of our life; the complex layers of experience, relationships and gifts which come together to be set out again in any form we choose.

Deep in the Valley of Drawing

Lines, shapes and angles Nature, as people are fond of saying, abhors a vacuum. Now that I no longer have to go to a certain place at the same time every morning, when an opportunity to take a course in "art practice" with Cat Bennett arose, I jumped in. Well, jumped after some encouragement from my friend Beth Rommel.

I've had an on and off relationship with drawing--mostly off. I came to art through the medium of textiles and in art school, recognized the need to learn how to draw. I took classes in figure drawing as well as landscape, but mostly with the feeling of forced march to them. I never understand the simple desire to pick up a pencil and render the world in front of me.

Although it might seem self-evident from years of art therapy that drawing by any means is a form of self-expression, I haven't always practicing internally what I preached. Until. Until.

I've yearned to bring my loves of yoga practice and art together and with that in mind, have signed up for a yoga teacher's training course at my favorite yoga studio, Kaya Yoga.

After taking that step, I began to listen more attentively to the prompts that teachers were giving us. When Kia recently spoke about each pose as a series of patterns, my ears perked up. Hmm, how could I translate that into drawing?

All lines and angles

What if drawing is as transitory as moving into and out of downward dog? Once you've done your series of poses for a class, and felt great or sore afterwards, or simply experienced them, you go off and encounter the rest of the day; the poses having evaporated in the moment. Could I do that with drawing? Just engage and then let go?

With trepidation and some resistance, I began my class "Making Art a Practice". Sure, I confess, I ripped out some of the studies I didn't like, but honestly, once I began to "lean in" as Sheryl Sandburg so pragmatically puts it, the practice began to be fun. I'm stretching my "tolerance for ambiguity" muscle and it definitely relates to yoga.

Two shapes and some lines

It is clear that around any edge my pencil turns, a drawing may collapse, just like I often do in Tree pose. (I love it when my teacher suggests we can be a shrub if we want.) So here I go. I move with my pencil, often ending up in the wrong place and needing to correct my direction. Yet at times, my pencil and I flow with ease. I look forward to the journey ahead and to wherever it takes me.

In Praise of Detail

Palm Reading 3, in process, ©2015, 8" x 10," Collage on panel Since leaving the university, with more time on my hands, I'm better able to turn my attention to the details of completing a piece; or, as my manager used to say about charting, "complete the circle!"

Previously, finishing a piece of art required working up to, and past, deadlines. Completion, to my mind, includes signing the work on the front, signing, titling and dating it on the back, painting the edges if the work is on a panel, or framing it, and making sure it has a hanging wire. Finally, I photograph the work and enter it into a database. Whew! All the while, I figure out how to spend the least money and still get the most out of my art.

Palm Reading 1, side detail, ©2015, 8" x 10," Collage on panel

When I ran into deadlines, I rarely had time to check the edge of panels, make sure all the collage pieces were securely glued down or even take into consideration how or where I signed it. All of these were minor details, but omitting them felt like omitting a handshake when I'd just met someone.

What a difference; time and room to consider.... details! After all, many small actions come together to make a greater creation. (As Shakespeare says, "the play's the thing.")

I like this new spaciousness of mind. I wonder how it's going to change my work. As Billy Crystal says in Analyze This, "It's a process." In the meantime, I'm off to pick up my work at the framer's.

Palm Reading 2, in process, ©2015, 8" x 10," Collage on panel