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 #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.

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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.

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*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.

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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!

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*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

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.