Sunday, June 26, 2016

Printing Up a Storm

I'm not really sure what that means, "up a storm", but it's what my grandmother would say when someone was going at something full-force, as in, "When you were a year old, you were just talking up a storm." I wonder where that came from, and is it an idiom?

Sorry, I'm wandering off course here, or, what my husband would call, "babbling". I do understand where that one came from, and it's a metaphor. I think. I've been working really hard this week, and I guess my brain is a little fried. I seem to be able only to speak in figurative language.

Anyway, I've been making monotypes (or some would say monoprints) for two days, not counting a whole day of preparation, which consisted of rearranging my studio, cleaning off the press and the dog crates and as many surfaces as I could to dry prints on, removing lots of artwork that was stored in boxes, finding my plexiglass plates and other equipment, etc.  That was Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday I printed, without breaks, from about 8:00 in the morning until 5:00 or so in the evening, without sitting down. My back was not at all happy about it.

 My drafting table, which is usually covered with carousels full of colored pencils, pens, and other tools, was pulled away from the wall, cleaned off, and used to hold the plexiglass plate and another piece to roll out and mix ink on. This wasn't nearly enough room to do what I needed to do, but I had to make do with what I had.

 Inks have been rolled out and colors have been mixed...

 I used some plants in my prints, just stuff I found in the yard, mostly weeds. It took a while to clean the ink off of everything, which is always the worst part...

My press was used as a press for a change, instead of a table where junk collects...

I don't have a drying rack, so every possible surface was cleared off to be used as space to dry prints...

... including the dog crates and drawers where I keep all kinds of ephemera...

Hopefully I will be showing you some finished products soon!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Drawing Challenge: Blue

For this drawing challenge, I decided to share a couple of older pieces in which blue is prominently featured.  I do tend to favor blue in general, but these are REALLY blue. I never get tired of looking at them (though one was sold). I hope you'll like them too.

 As Above, So Below
 mixed media, 17.75 x 10 inches

Sacred Geometry
monotype with mixed media,  22.5 x 17.5 inches

I feel like I could just drown in this blue, don't you? It's so saturated and rich. I hope the person who bought it is enjoying it as much as I enjoyed making it!

I just couldn't resist sharing Joni Mitchell's Blue; it was playing in my head the whole time I was working on this post. Enjoy!

This drawing challenge is hosted by Patrice of the wonderful Patrice A blog.
Please visit her for links to the other drawing challenge participants. I can't wait to see their blues!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


mixed media, 6.5 x 6.5 inches
ingredients: vintage maps and book pages, image transfers, acetate, watercolor pencils, vintage stamps, stitching

Alignment- (noun) 1. arrangement in a straight line, or in correct or appropriate relative positions.
                               2. a position of agreement or alliance.

“When what you value and dream about doesn’t match the life you are living, you have pain.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“And while his mother's lecture had gone over his seven-year-old head, Pasquale saw now what she meant--how much easier life would be if our intentions and our desires could always be aligned.”
― Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins

“Your definition of a good life does not have to look like everyone else thinks it should. Whatever feels right for you, whatever aligns your inside with your outside, that's what you should spend your time doing.”
― G. G. Renee Hill

This piece was gifted to two very dear friends; I truly hope they will enjoy it!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Seeds of Dharmakaya

Seeds of Dharmkaya
mixed media, 13.5 x 8.25 inches
ingredients: vintage ledger pages, vintage book pages, cut-outs, image transfers, artist pens, metallic ink, watercolor pencils, stitching

I can't pretend to fully understand what dharmakaya means, so I have quoted some passages here that make sense to me, in the hope that they will make some kind of sense to you, particularly in relation to the piece.  It's a very complex concept, and one that I'm attempting to learn more about.

"Dharmakaya has no categories; dharmakaya is simply being awake. It is the first achievement of a buddha; the first glimpse of vajra-like samadhi. Vajra-like samadhi means cutting through everything, completely and thoroughly. You cut through psychological and spiritual materialism and you cut through the notion of perfectionism as well." (Buddhism beta)

"The dharmakaya is the Absolute; the essence of the universe; the unity of all things and beings, unmanifested. The dharmakaya is beyond existence or nonexistence, and beyond concepts. The late Chogyam Trungpa called the dharmakaya 'the basis of the original unbornness.'
 It may be easier to understand dharmakaya in relation to the other bodies. The dharmakaya is the absolute basis of reality, from which all phenomena emanate. The nirmanakaya is the flesh-and-blood physical body. The sambhogakaya is intermediary; it is the bliss or reward body that experiences the totality of enlightenment." (Barbara O'Brien, About Religion)

* Note about the Buddha form:
If you've been following my blog for a while, you've probably noticed that similar Buddha-forms have appeared in several pieces. It is a pre-formulated schematic for painting the body of the Buddha, carefully measured and delineated so it could be followed by all the artists consistently and precisely. I can't remember where I first came across this pattern, but after a short search I was able to find the source of the drawings online. It comes from a book called The Tibetan Book of Proportions,
"an eighteenth-century pattern book consisting of 36 ink drawings showing precise iconometric guidelines for depicting the Buddha and Bodhisattva figures.... The concept of the ‘ideal image’ of the Buddha emerged during the Golden Age of Gupta rule, from the 4th to 6th century."

I believe these patterns are still followed in Tibetan Buddhist art today. Everything in the paintings is symbolic of an attribute of each deity, and conveys an important spiritual concept. I have always been interested in sacred geometry, and understanding the relationship between geometry, the natural world, and spirituality. This might sound strange, but is actually a very ancient concept, going back to prehistoric times, when people used geometry to chart the positions of the sun and moon to keep track of religious festivals that coincided with the solstices and equinoxes. Of course, since my artwork is not being used as a meditational tool, I'm able to take whatever liberties I wish, such as combining the Buddha figure with a compass rose, as I've done here.  If you're interested in finding out more about Tibetan religious art and its uses, I suggest reading Images of Enlightenment: Tibetan Art in Practice, by Jonathan Landaw and Andy Weber.

I hope all this is of interest to at least some of you, and hasn't bored anyone to death. As I've always said, if you don't read it, I'll never know the difference! I hope that you at least enjoyed the artwork.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (part 4): Cumberland Island

I copied this from the Cumberland Island website because they said it better than I ever could.

"Welcome to Georgia's largest barrier island and one of the most spectacular natural habitats in the Northern Hemisphere. The greatest and most lasting value of the Island is its ability to change us. It is a place of transformation. It is this intangible feature that seems to be the most important benefit which Cumberland Island has for its guests. This spiritual quality is what, year after year, its visitors, residents, and Park Service employees seem to believe is its most important contribution to our people."

 To get to Cumberland National Seashore, you have to catch the ferry boat, the Cumberland Princess, in St. Marys, Georgia. Cars are not allowed on the island, and although some people did bring bikes with them, they're not allowed on the trails.

 St. Marys waterfront park.

The ferry lets you off near the Dungeness Ruins.

Getaway's Anna Hider has summed up the history of the place without going into too much detail:

" of the most interesting and important estates in American history is this ruined mansion out on Georgia's Cumberland Island, part of the Cumberland National Seashore. More than one famous figure occupied the island (as far back as the 1730's!) and yet the remains have been left to crumble.

James Oglethorpe, the man who founded the state of Georgia, was the first to occupy the island. He built a hunting lodge he called "Dungeness" there in 1736. After that, the next major owner was Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene, who.... built another iteration of Dungeness on the estate in 1803. The island played a big role in the War of 1812, when the British occupied it and used it as a headquarters, and Robert E. Lee's father stayed in the mansion for a few years before his death. The island was abandoned during the Civil War, and Dungeness II burned down."

Finally Thomas Carnegie (brother of the famously wealthy Andrew Carnegie) and his wife built yet another Dungeness, a 59-room Queen Anne style mansion.  The Carnegie family left the island in 1925, and the house burned down and fell into ruin. Now cared for by the National Park Service, the island is designated as a National Seashore.

There were originally about 40 outbuildings; the ones that are left are eerily beautiful.

Many were quarters for the family's approximately 200 servants.

I'm pretty sure this was a barn...

From Dungeness, I think it's about a mile walk to the beach.

On the way, we saw several wild horses.

Mama and baby were running around playing amidst the trees...

At one point I was walking along the path when I heard and then saw a horse galloping full-speed right at me. I barely had time to jump out of the way, and since there was thick vegetation alongside the path, it missed me by only a few feet. (Not this horse; I didn't get a shot of it for obvious reasons.)

The path to the beach passes through a very large area of huge sand dunes, which are beautiful, but not that easy to walk through...

Cumberland Island beach. See all the hotels and condos lining the beach? No, me neither.

There was hardly anyone there... mostly just us and the birds...

On the way back, the sky looked threatening...

...but we lucked out and it never rained.

We got back on the ferry at Sea Camp, the island's small, beautiful camp ground.

Goodbye, Cumberland Island!

I hope you all enjoyed my little tour. If you like wild, unspoiled nature, I strongly recommend taking the trip!

Monday, May 23, 2016

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (part 3): Mount Dora

We stopped in Mount Dora to visit with some dear friends, and fell in love with the town. Mount Dora is a quaint and historic town which sits atop the highest point in Florida (184 feet above sea level). There are actually some hills here - small ones, but hills, nonetheless. 

We stayed at the Lakeside Inn, which was built in 1883 and is on the US National Register of Historic Places. The building is gorgeous, and made me feel as if I were going back in time.

There's also a steam engine which still runs...

...with an old-fashioned red caboose.

Mount Dora sits on a huge lake - Lake Dora, as luck would have it. Lake Dora is part of the Ocklawaha River basin, which eventually empties into the St Johns River.

In the late 1800's, a canal was dug from Lake Dora to Lake Eustis, which became a haven for wildlife.

We took a guided cruise down the Dora Canal, and were excited to see alligators, three types of herons, and other wildlife.

An anhinga drying its wings after swimming with only its head and neck out of the water. Weird, huh?

The boat was moving and so were they, so I was not able to get clear photos of most of them, but we really enjoyed the ride.

... my favorite bird...

White ibises strolling through someone's front yard.

We went for a walk on Palm Island, a beautiful park...

... with what I believe is a real lighthouse.

Palm Island is a beautiful place to walk and enjoy the scenery and wildlife.