Monday, March 30, 2015

"Before Morning Coffee"

24x30x1.5", mixed media on canvas

So this one has something that hasn't appeared in a painting of mine before: Sewing things to the canvas. I found some strips of wood and sewed them to the surface using thick thread. I then put gel medium over the wood and thread on the front, and also coated the thread on the back so it would stay put. This painting also has some of that mattress ticking that I love.

I think the title came out of a casual conversation: "This looks energetic, like it happened before morning coffee!" But that worked as a title, partly because it's a fairly energetic painting, but also because a lot of the brown is coffee colored, and I've seen coffee used as a stain on paintings. 

Friday, March 27, 2015


30x48x1.5", mixed media on canvas

I  mentioned in yesterday's post that I was going to be on a community cable show. It was wonderful! The hostess was Pauline, and she was quite a firecracker. There were four guests: Our teacher, another student, and the woman who manages the Radius gallery where we have our current show. We had an hour, and Pauline asked us all questions. Now I want to get a copy of the show.

OK, the piece shown here was a leap. Here's what I did: I put down texture material and added pieces of an old pair of shorts that I had. I slathered some fluorescent orange paint hither and yon. I added some soft tree bark I had, then later pulled it off. Finally, I had found some small white figures, which are probably for architectural layouts, but I liked them and added them to the painting, adhering them with silicone glue . 

Somewhere in there, I added the other colors. I felt I needed to tone down the fluorescent orange, so I painted a mix of yellow ochre and other colors over it. I rolled on the blue-gray with my small paint roller.

Here's a close-up of one of the white figurines and a piece of the shorts. I liked the section with the zipper and button. 

I think I'm learning to live with discomfort. I really wasn't sure this painting was right while I was doing it, but now I like it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


20x24x1.5", mixed media on canvas

Thanks to my painting teacher (thanks Sefla!), this afternoon I drive to Santa Cruz to be interviewed for a TV show, along with Sefla and another student. Granted, it's a local cable show, but hey. I'll take this painting and possibly two others along. I'll post them here in the next couple of days. W00t!

I'm taking this picture because it shows what kind of mishmash I put on the canvas. This has the normal stucco patch plus paint, but it also has bits of wood, a spiky acorn cap, a square of vinyl (I think) that wraps around the edge of the canvas (it's on the left), and a bicycle reflector, which is lower right. For the bicycle reflector, I pushed the pointy bits (the things that hold it to a bike) through the canvas, then put silicon glue on the back. The canvas has lots of gesso and paint, so it doesn't tear, and the glue should hold things together. That reflector ain't goin' nowhere!

Friday, February 27, 2015


30x24x1.5", mixed media on canvas

One of the interesting things about creating a dialogue with a painting is that you don't know what will happen. I started working on this, and the half face is what came about. I don't know if I would have done a painting where half the face was out of the picture -- especially the eyes! -- if I hadn't been guided that way. And I certainly didn't have that in mind when I was putting down the texture or adding the random color marks. Whoda thunk?

Saturday, February 21, 2015


36x36x1.5", mixed media on canvas

This was another one where I threw down the texture material, then created a tremendous mess, then decided what to paint. She was suggested by lines and edges in the painting, which is why it's kind of a dialogue. And I named her Akimbo because she's kind of all corners and knees and wrists.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


24x30x1.5", mixed media on canvas

This was one of those paintings where you need someone else to say "STOP! NOW!" I was in painting class and had followed my process of making a gorgeous mess gluing down bits of this and that, scribbling, pulling things off, making drippies. Doing whatever seemed like fun with the supplies of the moment. Then I went over the picture with my roller using an off-white, letting pieces of what was there show through. I wanted the richness that comes from layers and layers adding up.

I was about to keep working on it, then my teacher (Sefla Joseph) said "STOP!" And she was right. It has mystery, is interesting to look at, and looks simple until you get close. Thanks, Sefla.

An interesting feature of this painting is that the dark area in the upper right comes from paint on the BACK of the canvas. I had pulled something off the front, and it took some of the gesso with it, leaving raw canvas. I'd done this before, but this time I wanted to USE the effect. So I added a dark color.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Around the Bend"

24x36x1.5", mixed media on canvas

I have this quandary in my paintings. My process is this: First I just have fun and scatter texture material (stucco patch or flexible gel or cloth or other stuff) hither and yon without thinking about where it goes. Well, not thinking much. I might try to put more texture here and less there, to add some variety and resting spaces for the eyes. After that I might let it dry, then I might scribble all over it with pens. Might not, though. Don't know. So, by adding stuff. or even using an old painting I never cottoned to, I build up a rich underpainting. In the second part of the process, I get focused on the painting and let it tell me what it needs. There might be wonderful passages that I want to keep or must let go of. I might remove some texture bits or add more. And it's always good to ask what you can do without; it makes for better paintings.

I like that I get to balance my child (first step) and adult (second step) selves in the painting. It's good.

So the quandary is that the painting foundation might be a complete lack of planning or thinking. Which seems a bit strange. The trouble is, when I make a plan, I create these self-conscious works that I don't like. So I'll stick with my process. I just feel surprised when I see that it's based on no planning or thinking.

And that shows up in this painting because the shapes are more squared off than is usual for me. So I must have made some straight lines in the texture underneath. It almost looks like an abstract city scape, really. But what I love most about it is that the central rectangle bends to the left. Buildings shouldn't do that.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Slippery Ice"

18x36x1.5", mixed media on canvas

This one contains pieces of an old bedsheet that wore out and tore, so it was no longer useful in normal life. So I glued it down. Then there were too many ridges, so I took my razor-blade-in-a-safety-handle (kids! never use razor blades without safety handles!) and cut away some of the sheet. I liked the rough edges, so I then put medium on the whole piece to protect it. 

There's another unusual thing about this piece, which is that it uses a metallic paint. I don't tend to use those, since they can get precious, but it wanted it here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Peeled Away"

24x30x1.5", mixed media on canvas

This is a another in my series of paintings that have fewer colors, and thus emphasize texture more. This one used to be a painting where I'd glued down old rags made out of T-shirts, then added other texture material such as patching compound and sand. Then I painted a figure over it. But the painting never spoke to me, so I peeled off (hence the title) the rags, used that as an undercoat, then added the fabric and mucked around until I was happy with it. 

By the way, peeling off is a great way to add interesting texture; it can result in surfaces that you couldn't create on your own. Mostly it's best to do it once the glue material (I use either white glue or gel) has hardened to the touch but has not cured. Often you'll pull off some of the original gesso, and sometimes you need to be careful or you'll tear the canvas. Not that that's necessarily bad, mind you...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"The Confused World"

30x40x1.5", mixed media on canvas

This painting, and the one in the immediate prior post, were accepted into the Santa Cruz Art League's juried multimedia show! It's called All Mixed Up. I am so honored! It feels like my paintings are going in a good direction, and I hope that this is proof.

For this one, I used an older painting of mine that was no longer working for me, although I love that bits of it show up here and there. Basecoats are crucial. I also added industrial foam (the stuff that electricians put behind outlets) to add texture. And I had been utterly drinking in the amazing work of Hannelore Baron, so I added fabric. By the way, Baron was amazing; you should look her up. Her work could make you cry.