Saturday, November 23, 2013

Automatic Writing

The Kobold's House (work in progress). Mixed media on wood. Private collection.

Certainly, there's much to be said about careful planning. And I honestly do that for many of my works--especially commissions and illustrations. Lack of planning--especially in the form of thumbnails, generally leads to lackluster pictures.

That being said, I am not a natural planner, and I indulge in much "Automatic Drawing" for the simple joy and mystery of it. I liken it to Automatic Writing . Even though my first and so far, only exposure to that phenomenon was through the hideous Mrs. Montague in Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, the unconscious act of letting my pencil do what it will seems very like a paranormal activity. (And unlike the ridiculous night-vision-ghost-hunter shows, I actually get to see a satisfying result.)

For this piece, the only thought in my head was working with an orange light at night. I had a pre-primed wood circle in the drawer and late one night, I drew the picture directly onto the wood. It felt like meditation--very few conscious  thoughts were present, and while I know there are imperfections, I loved the drawing and relished the process.

I inked it with a small brush and added the cross-hatching the next morning. Application of the colored inks and acrylics followed. The best thing, by suspending any "perfection goal", I learned a lot. There is very little I like better--at least art-related.

I am a great subscriber to Jung's theories about archetypes and inspiration--in this case his archetype of the home. The upper floor represents the conscious personality, the ground floor is the personal unconscious, and the deeper level is the collective unconscious – the primitive, shared aspect of psychic life.
The Kobold is a faery denizen often living deep in mines. This fellow's conscious personality likes comfort though, and lives on his own snug main floor. To access the mine, he heads down to the pantry--his personal unconscious mind. The trap door in his pantry leads down the creaky wooden steps to the collective unconscious.

To access the mine, sometimes all I have to do is have a clean surface for drawing.

Thanks for the visit!

Ps. It'll be available for purchase at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities in a few short weeks.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fragment File
To toss or not to toss?
The Fish Hook Mix pic above is in my fragment file. It's an echo from my teaching days, during which my lifelines to new music were my students. They kept me updated on tune-essentials with mix discs, and in turn I supplied them with my favorites. Often they'd decorate the disc cases, so I started doing the same. This one never got finished, but I found it in the fragment file.
I am not a hoarder, but I keep unfinished bits in the fragment file. It's just a box on the top shelf in the studio closet, and it's nearly busting open with undeveloped bits done recently, and long ago.
Like a sketchbook, the box is a bit of a journal. The only problem--I don't know how old many are or even the initial impetus for some... this smeary little photographer on tracing paper.
But I hang onto them, mostly because I know the "dry-days"--those absolutely uncreative times when nothing stimulates--will occur. And when leafing through books or gazing at Pinterest doesn't frack something loose, I can ink and watercolor something from the box--a piece once begun but yet unfinished.
This unfinished Humpty Dumpty maybe...
...or the portly-man out for a walk, drawn onto a thick piece of watercolor paper.
Pretty sure that it's a good idea to keep most everything I draw-- even if it's incomplete-- for now. And when I'm on my deathbed, I'll order the fragment file into the fire.
Thanks for checking in!

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Victorian Collector
Entomologist (detail), mixed media on panel.

Clothing of the past, especially that of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, has compelled me since childhood--primarily because of my exposure to the Victorian illustrators of Dickens' works.

Captain Cuttle tries to escape Mrs. Mac Stinger in this illustration by Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne)
from Dombey and Son, by Charles Dickens.

 Most are engravings after the drawings, and all are in black and white, but the energy and atmosphere of them blows me away.

This old photo of a Victorian worker in sack coat and vest is one of the resources I used for the Entomologist's vest...

...but my drawings seldom bear much resemblance to the resource.

Entomologist. Mixed media on panel, 4" x 4". Private collection.

I'm working on a series of small works for an upcoming show, and have been trying my hand at new (for me) spins on familiar techniques.

For this painting, I used a warm mixture of sepia and india inks over a pencil drawing. A warm wash of raw umber followed, and then watercolor and acrylic ink colors came next. When the figures were done, I masked them with paper and spattered the piece using an atomizer. White gouache and a bit of white gesso provided the highlights. I sealed the painting with UV-blocking gloss varnish. It'll be mounted on wood and varnished one more time before the show.

Feel free to check out my Victorian/Edwardian resource board on Pinterest and
Thanks for checking out this post!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Interactive Inspiration

Witch sketch (detail), mixed media

In the dark about most things having to do with gaming or other things interactive, I still managed to fall in love with an exhibit/art experience called Shadow Monsters, by Philip Worthington. 

Maybe it was the fact that I was in Seattle; maybe it was the total pleasure I get every time I visit the EMP Museum, but I was enthralled by Shadow Monsters, to the point of suspending my usual self-consciousness to become a shadow-hog, oblivious to any audience I may have had. Gyrating, hunching, and otherwise indulging in a variety of poses, a few photos below give you the idea:

I'm there on the right, turning into a creature threatening my daughter.

And me transforming along with my backpack.

A collaborative creature featuring my daughter and me.

There are more photos, there were many more creatures. I couldn't tear myself away! Luckily, the museum was quiet that day so I wasn't putting anyone out. Well, not many anyway.

Back at the hotel that evening, I was compelled to try a few sketches inspired by Worthington's masterpiece. The witch detail at the top is one.

Here's the complete witch...

and a creature sketch.
A tip of my hat to Philip Worthington!
Big screen TV? Meh. Video games? Yawn...
But if a home version of Shadow Monsters ever goes on sale, I'd be camping out in line to get one!
If you haven't experienced this amazing interactive art, you are missing an art masterpiece.
Check out more info at
Thanks for stopping by!

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