Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Face Practice with Prompts

A couple weeks ago, I learned about Galia Alena’s blog where she was hosting a 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge. I decided to join the challenge earlier this month and started sketching faces using her prompts as inspiration.

I haven’t been able to sketch a face every day. Which means I’m taking to heart the second “guideline” for this challenge:

If a face a day is too much for you, don’t let that stop you, do what feels right for you– we’d love you to play along in whatever way feels right to you.

I like that type of guideline. So for me this may be a 30+ day challenge.

I’m committed to finishing this challenge. Regardless of how many days it takes. Because I usually don’t make it to the end and typically drop out or stop participating somewhere along the way.

Right now I’m using my larger sketchbook to create these pieces. Most take about an hour to complete.

Day One: Drips and Splashes

The first piece was created on a piece of pre-splattered, painted paper that was leftover from a previous workshop. I was trying to emulate what I created in one of Gillian’s classes. That attempt, below, kind of failed.

Day1_DripsandSplashes1

I wanted to try this prompt again and decided to move on to my sketchbook. I used a black ink wash to create the background. Once that dried, Conte pastel pencil, white ink, black ink, and thinned acrylic paint were used to create the face.

Day1_DripsandSplashes2

Day Two: Dream

I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted to create for this prompt. I kept seeing an image of a face with closed eyes. Paint, paper, ink, Caran d’Arche crayons, and oil pastels were used.

Day2_Dream

Day Three: Text

I woke up on Saturday morning with this prompt knocking around in my head. I immediately envisioned a background with words. Before sitting down to create this piece, I burned some sage in my studio, closed my eyes, and meditated on the word “text.”

I asked my creative guides to join me and pulled out a couple pictures to use as a reference. During the process I was inspired to use the strands of her hair as lines for writing more text.

Day3_Text_VeryClose

Day3_Text_Close

Day3_Text

Day Four: Wing

Up to this point, I’ve been stuck on putting circles on the cheeks and noses of these pieces. I have no idea why. Maybe “stuck” isn’t the right word because I’m just following my intuition when sketching these pieces.

That, however, ended (for now) with the day four prompt.

I followed the same preparation process before sketching; burn sage, meditate, and ask for guidance. The piece came together almost effortlessly. Sometimes I continue to surprise myself.

Day4_Wing

This piece was created with graphite pencil and charcoal pencil. Red Conte pastel pencil adds a pop of color. Silver oil pastel was also used on the feathers of her wing.

This is my favorite piece thus far.


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Entering The Awkward Teenager Stage

Oh goodness, I can’t believe it has been several weeks since I posted about my class with Flora Bowley. The month of March has passed so quickly. I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve just been focused in another direction.

In my time away from the blog, I’ve received my level 2 Reiki certification, had a revelation about the direction I want to take in life, finished Flora’s class, and started researching my family tree in preparation for an upcoming trip. All good stuff.

I’ve continued to work on my paintings from the workshop. They’ve gone through several more iterations since I last posted. I refer to this as the awkward teenager stage. I like how they look. I don’t like how they look. They want more of a certain color. They want to be turned upside-down for a different perspective. They want attention. They want to be left alone. You get the picture.

This is how the two primary canvases looked at the end of my last post.

First Canvas

FirstCanvas_TranslucentLayer

Second Canvas

SecondCanvas_TranslucentLayer

The Awkward Teenager Stage

Maybe this isn’t so much about the painting entering the awkward teenager stage as much as it is an extension of that stage. Certainly the last two pictures, which show each painting’s progress up to that point, look pretty awkward. And that is the great variable in this process. You can add as many layers, marks, and colors as you like. It all depends on when you feel like the painting is starting to come together and when the painting tells you that it is starting to come together.

Does that seem convoluted?

Anyways, after all those layers I applied in the first couple of weeks, I started to add imagery. The images can be abstract or real objects. They might stay in the final piece or they may completely change. It’s all up to intuition.

First Canvas Transformation

FirstCanvas_AddingImagesAs I sat in meditation one day, an idea popped into my head on what this canvas wanted to look like. I saw an image of an angel and a tree on either side of her. So I went with that idea.

Adding an Angel

Adding an Angel

I spent quite a bit of time dancing with this angel on the canvas. Then I flipped the canvas upside down and a face appeared. (Apologies for the poor picture quality. I only took one picture at this stage using the camera on my phone.)

Face appears

Face appears

Sigh. First, I was really excited about the angel. And then that face appeared. The more I painted, or tried to paint around the angel, the more I knew that the angel was constricting my progress on this piece. She took up too much room. I felt like I was trying to create around her instead of with her. I like angels. But this one was cramping my style.

After a lot of hesitation and avoidance, I had to say “Buh-buh” to my angel.

Buh-buh angel

Buh-buh angel

This was hard to do. I was quite attached to the angel. But part of the intuitive painting process asks us to let go of things we don’t need at that moment. It doesn’t mean that the image won’t appear again in the same painting. It simply means letting go for now. And that can open us up to new and greater things.

You’ll notice that I committed to the face that appeared. Seriously committed to it. That face will become a permanent part of this painting. Below are a two more images.

Second Canvas Transformation

Here is the second canvas with the initial group of shapes and images that I added.

SecondCanvas_AddingImages

For whatever reason, I wasn’t “feeling it” when I put these shapes on the canvas. This has been a fairly consistent occurrence that I became more and more aware of during class. Often, I would paint on one canvas and really feel like I was in the flow. I’d move to the next canvas and seem to lose that momentum. Maybe this was a sign that I needed to take a break in between each piece. Maybe the music playing at that moment wasn’t right. I haven’t figured that one out, yet.

I proceeded to flip the canvas and focused on the large flower shape.

SecondCanvas_FlowerAppearsAt this point I’m trying very hard to practice non-attachment to the painting. And to keep my loud-mouth negative voice, named Ester, from squashing the whole thing. One aspect we did agree on was that we really liked the small spirits that gathered in the upper right corner of the canvas.

Spirits gathering

Spirits gathering

At this point, I walked away from the canvas. I really didn’t like it. Other than the spirits, I wasn’t liking anything about this piece. So I did something drastic. I obliterated everything except the gathering of spirits. I painted dark and moody. I had a blast doing it too.

And then something magical happened. I looked around the studio. I decided to paint on the canvas the images of some art dolls hanging on my wall. This is when the winged creatures appeared.

Winged Creatures Appear

Winged Creatures Appear

Something clicked in this instant. Taking a giant leap had provided me with a new starting point. New potential. From here I began to add contrasting colors that made the winged creatures stand out. Now we were getting somewhere.

SecondCanvas_WingedCreatures_Color

Winged Creatures Detail

Winged Creatures Detail

And that is where I’m going to end this post. Both canvases have transformed through wild colors and many layers. Images are being added, then obliterated or reworked. Each piece is coming into its own. Moving out of the awkward teenager stage and into a blooming piece of art.


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Experiments in Intuitive Painting

A year ago, in February, I pulled some muscles in my back and spent several weeks recovering. I call that time period the “Universe tried to kick me in the a** and missed” month. During that February, I spent time learning about  St. Hildegard of Bingen. One of the practices I engaged in was creating mandalas or other forms of painting images inspired by daily readings and prompts.

It was during this time that I reawakened my love of painting and sketching. I also became more intrigued with using words or phrases as the catalyst for the pieces I created.

Fast forward several months. I’m pondering what direction my art wants to take me. Polymer clay is still my first love. But, realistically, sculpting is not agreeing with my hands. After a few hours, I can feel my thumb joints starting to ache. I am reminded of that time in February. I find an old email that contains a video interview with Chris Zydel of Creative Juices Arts. I remember being intrigued with the concept of intuitive painting the first time I heard about Chris and her work.

I start poking around the Internet for information on intuitive painting. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go too far down that rabbit hole before I found Flora Bowley’s website. I’m drawn in by what I see & read.

A few clicks later and I’ve ordered her book and some tempera paints to play with.

As my holiday show schedule came to a close, I set aside some time to read Flora’s book and play with my paints. I chose the tempera paints because they’re relatively inexpensive and figured it would be a good place to start playing with this form of painting. I also didn’t want to waste the few acrylic paints I did have on this experiment.

So I pulled out an unused watercolor pad, tore off a few pages, and began to play. Here are the first few intuitive paintings I created using those tempera paints.

Experiments with Tempera Paint

Intuitive Painting #1

Intuitive Painting #1

Intuitive Painting #2

Intuitive Painting #2

Angels in the Mist

Angels in the Mist

Flying Blue

Flying Blue

Tempera paints are, um, interesting. They dry pretty quick and don’t mix well unless you immediately put wet paint on top of wet paint. Granted the watercolor paper probably wasn’t the best substrate. But, you rock what you’ve got when you’re experimenting and playing with a new medium.

The Acrylics Arrive

A Christmas gift to myself was a sampler set of Liquitex soft body acrylics, plus a few other assorted colors, and a new assortment of paint brushes. Now I was ready to give this intuitive painting play some serious attention.

Here are two pieces in progress using the acrylic paints. Each is on a 5″x7″ canvas panel.

"Cellular"

“Cellular”

"Two Faces"

“Two Faces”

The acrylics are, for the most part, fun to use. The colors are more vibrant and tend to blend better than the temperas. I am having some interesting results when I spray water on the Liquitex paint. It often lifts right off the canvas, leaving behind either small water spots or larger blank spots. Sometimes the color layer underneath is retained. Sometimes it pulls right down to the white canvas.

I consider it a happy “accident” and try to work the effect into the overall painting. After all, I am trying to do this intuitively.

During this time I also signed up for Flora’s online course, BloomTrue

It was a slightly spontaneous decision. I had read about the course last fall. Then a couple friends recently told me about their experience taking the class. It started to feel like the Universe was putting it out there for me to make a choice. So I listened. Class starts February 10. I can’t wait to delve deeper into the process and share more paintings with you.


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Preparing to Say Goodbye

The spirit of death weighs heavy on me this week. A friend who has been battling cancer for nearly 3 years has entered hospice in preparation for her final days. At home our dear, sweet oldest cat also appears to be preparing us for his last days. I am heartbroken. We knew these times would come. Someday. Yet all the mental preparation in the world really doesn’t prepare you.

Run

I want to run. I want to run hard, fast, and away from the pain that grips my heart. I feel it ache and tears well-up in my eyes. I want to scream and push the pain aside. I want to tell death to F.O.  And then I find a moment of calm. My heart relaxes and relief washes over me. I don’t like this roller coaster. I want to busy myself with something else. I cannot. I must embrace my fear.

Time is Precious

I look back on the days when I would visit my friend. A group was formed after she returned home from surgery. We would take turns visiting, providing food, conversation, helping around the house. Whatever we could do to be of service. It was a bit hard at first. What will I say? What will we talk about? There were good days and not so good days. Months of good health in spite of the situation. Laughter, jokes, walks, and ice cream. Sharing of art. Sharing of spirituality. On the days when I really didn’t feel like going, I was glad I did.

At home, I find myself missing Woody cat, even though he is just one floor below me curled up on our bed. He has fought kidney and thyroid disease for more than a year, but less than two. So many blood tests & pills to give. Through it all he has been our Zen kitty. So tolerant. So accepting. I wonder how I would’ve put up with all he’s gone through. Changes in his health were mostly gradual. And then one day you notice something isn’t right. This latest change happened over last weekend. It is the one I’ve dreaded.

Preparing

How does one prepare to say goodbye? I honestly do not know. This isn’t like “goodbye, I’ll see you later.” This is the final goodbye. I know you won’t be coming back. You tell yourself you’ll be alright. That this is the circle of life. Then you tell yourself that is a bunch of BS. The pain grows stronger inside. The grief. It swells and then I burst.

I’ve spent most days this week in silence. No music. Some TV. Meals are quiet with some conversation. A pall hangs over us. This has been a pretty sucky week. Sometimes it hurts to be a heart-centered person. I know my heart center is large and it absorbs much of the pain and sorrow around me. That is why my heart breaks so easily. I feel it down into my hands and all around my chest.

I wake each morning and thank the Universe for another day. I thank the Universe for bringing my friend and my pet through the night. I spend time thinking of good memories and the joy these two beings brought into my life.

I don’t know if I’m truly prepared for what comes next. I only hope that when it comes, I can let it wash over me. Welcome it. Then let it go.

Woody


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Monday Reflection: Begin The Journey

It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.

~Wendell Berry


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Glimmer Series: Mixed Media Wall Art Prototype

I want to create mixed media wall art pieces as part of the Glimmer Series. As I started to develop this body of work, I had a strong urge to work with beeswax. Don’t ask me why; I have no idea. But the muse said to give it a go and to see what happens.

Ideally I would love to create the mixed media wall pieces on artist panels. I bought a few 4″x4″ panels with a 3/4″ profile last December. Those panels are intended for a different project but they might be incorporated into this body of work.

Anyways, before jumping right in and working on the panels, I created a prototype wall piece on 5″x7″ artist canvas panel. This gave me the chance to play with beeswax, papers, oil paint and polymer clay all on one surface. Beyond that, I didn’t plan out the piece with a sketch and just worked intuitively.

Glimmer of Hope Wall Prototype

I started out by applying beeswax to the canvas, placed a page torn from an old book into the wet wax, and then fused more wax on top. From there I built layers with rice paper, paper beads, and oil paint. I fused tiny pieces of branch around two words from the book: “Changed” and “Beautiful”. The polymer clay face is taken from a mold made of Glimmer #1’s face and painted gold.

When the entire piece was cooled and dry, I highlighted the raised areas with Gilder’s Paste. Gold stamped words “Glimmer” and “Hope” finish this prototype.