painting tilapia . . .

notice next to the fish's mouth, "executive benefits" on the other end, "diets."

The Friday after Thanksgiving we invited some friends over, got the ma-mas ready for creative time, bought some tilapia, anchovies & a few trout at the local market & got busy.

Raine's fish print masterpiece age 6

This project was inspired by my brilliant daughter, Raine, who came home with a fish print in first grade – which I have kept to this day vowing to someday try this myself. And I guess nearly 10 years later was the perfect time to slap some fish on paper.

The idea behind this project is simple. Paint a fish & slap it on paper. I was using it as a warm-up to further painting or use the fish print & expand on it. I cut mine up & collaged it onto a board, other’s forgot about the fish altogether & ran in a different direction.

All in all, it was fun, smelly, bringing about lots of playfulness, laughter, a need for gloves, cats & the need to double bag the remains & discard in a dumpster down the street.

Ellie's fish face

subtle palette

sara pressing anchovies

tilapia & anchovy

Larry getting ready for a smooch

Grandma Karen jumping in!

my mama's fish

the catch is driving the cats crazy!

communing with fish

fish hands

I hung the fish on a laundry line with clothes pins across my window to show them off. Later I moved it up a bit as a window treatment.

hanging them out to dry

look at those fish!

installation piece in our dining room

my fish print collage

dirty laundry in California . . .

Ginger with Maggie & Luna

I flew out to visit with my BFF, Ginger & attend the Annual Sophia Conference which she was hosting in her beautiful Yoga Studio & house. It was a fabulous event & after we were able to make some time to create in her art studio which is  behind her yoga studio.

We warmed up with a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop & then headed home for some real “Dirty Laundry” creating.

i love small local coffee shops

The Sacred Studio

We started our creations with pasting paper on wood plaques for our foundation. Then we painted over the paper, laid down our focal center, pasted it, painted more, added more, used pens, more paint, & on & on. It’s so hard to explain because it is just a process that is intuitive & very flowing. There really isn’t any rights or wrongs. I think it is a good idea to keep in mind composition principles & color but really there is no “right” way to get from A to B.

But it isn’t about the end product. It is really about the creating together, watching what evolves, experiencing the magic, connecting & tending to the conversation as it deepens, dips & meanders into places unexpected.

Ginger & her collage, Simply Love Yourself

my collage

Our creations

I have since worked on this one a little too much, seeing the first version reminds me to not work & re-work things too much. Instead just love what I make in the first place & allow it to stretch its legs a bit before I judge it too harshly & wish to redo it!

broken wings & cosmos

dirty laundry last saturday night . . .

Sounds like a title to a song!

No it’s just what we are calling our beloved art gatherings that are blossoming ever so slowly, & gently with perfect timing in an ever-so-not-precious way. Which is important, of course. There is nothing precious about dirty laundry right? Also you don’t need to give it a lot of brain power, you just throw it in a tub, slosh it around a bit, wring it out, rinse, slosh, splat it, wring it, dip it, wiggle it, wring it again & then hang it up for everyone to see! under garments, unmentionables & all. Just hang it out to drip on the ground, letting it be absorbed into the earth, creating more life, growth, & so on! I’m sure you get the picture!

what i painted via a transfer of a photo of a plastic jesus

The only difference is we are doing all the wring-ing, sloshing, dipping, & wiggling with paint, brushes, inks, stamps, paper, wood, glue, gel mediums more paint & god only knows what!! It truly is a cleansing process & so amazing when it is done & you look down at what you created & then around the room at all the other creations & it’s like Whoa!!! How did that happen? Where did all the time go? How did we get so many amazingly different & unique creations?

the mess we left behind

Last Saturday night we gathered at my house for some Dirty Laundry (when you say dirty, think of the movie Joe Dirt & be sure to pronounce it, der-teeeee, or not). There were four of us luscious ladies, two men drinking wine in the other room, a toddler running in & out, & a teenager heading out to a Homecoming dance with her date & then returning before we were finished. It was a busy evening, but despite all that, we got some great creating done.

The theme for the evening was Ubuntu to go with the blog I had just wrote & it coincided with a talk that Vayu had just heard that day by Robert Thurman that spoke of a Buddhist idea that was very similar to ubuntu. From what I recall he spoke of how we can all be so arrogant in our thinking we are better, or smarter than others but we can only truly know when we know & listen to all points of view (I am probably not doing it justice but that’s what I got out of her sharing).  How serendipitous is that?

I must confess, I was so into the creating & being with my dirty sisters that I forgot to capture the moment in images to share here. I did however take photos of the mess that still sits on my dining room table, & asked the dirty girls to send me some photos of their creatings & some thoughts about the night.

Here is what the lovely Sara wrote, I love hearing her tell the story of the evening through her eyes & words.

sara's ubuntu of women

“Last night my sisters and I gathered to create art in the spirit of Ubuntu.  Amid a scattering of paper bits, paint and glue and a surrounding of candles, wine and soul food, a new sisterhood was formed.  Women who had not yet met, orbited one another, careful of each others unique dialects, learning to quietly arrange and pattern their movements in an unfamiliar hive.  We stretched ourselves to learn a new form of expression.  To
create art out of the generous offerings of our hostess in a method unexplored and somewhat uncomfortable for us.  Not knowing where and how to step can be a gift, a door opener and a unifier.  We left with art that will remind us of our journey.  Not masterpieces for a wall in a static composition, but whispers that remind us what it means to stretch and grow, to learn of each others unique lenses.  To see through the eyes of another provides us a clue as to how we fit in the larger web.  I am thankful for my Ubuntu art.  I am thankful for my sisters – those I have danced with and those I will one day.  I am thankful for the moments that stretch me and connect me and the whispers to take home to remind me of our shared journey.”

Danielle sent me these photographs of her collages. They are both inspiring & I wish I had captured them here that night with the beautiful smiles on the beautiful women who came to create together.

this was Danielle's first collage

This collage is sweet for me to see, because this woman in the left bottom corner photo is my Grandmother, Lila, playing like she is beating up her friend. The middle photo I took in 2001 or so of my good friend Ariana in Carlsbad, CA. She was one of my first clients. Then the top photo is called, The Journey & was taken on Camp Pendleton in California again back in 2001.

Danielle sent me this photo of her 2nd collage

I love how Danielle just jumped right in & started pasting paper on wood. Very audacious of her, & if you know me, you know I love audacious women.

My focus was to master the art of transferring images. There are numerous ways to do this but tonight I wanted to try two different ones. The first was with a gel medium painted on the ink side & laid down flat to dry then pull off, & the second is using transparent shelving paper. 

gel medium transfer of dictionary paper - i know it is backwards!

In these images both the plastic Jesus & the dictionary page were glued down. I think it is important to wait for them to dry. I didn’t & the image came up in areas, so I decided to paint over the plastic Jesus – which turned out pretty good – well I like it anyways.

ubuntu, in his name

The next way is outlined in Sara Ahearn Bellemare’s book, Painted Pages. I think it is on page 90, it turned out pretty good, but I think I could have taken off more paper. Again, I decided to paint over it, which I like but if I try again will not put so much paint – not over paint anyways. It’s one of those things I’m discovering.

transfer soaking from Painted Pages by sara ahearn bellemare

soak & rub off the back

end result - pretty translucent! I love it!

This is where I’m seeing that less paint could be more in this situation!

don't mourn her shackles, embrace your freedom to choose

scanning sunflowers

this is what i played with today!!! I’m so excited about this new process that is so easy. a friend recently showed me some images of flowers she had taken on her scanner that were so incredible i had to try.

after some experimentation & a little Photoshop touch up/spotting this is it!!! TaaaaDaaaa!!! can you tell I’m excited?

so if you want to try this on your scanner this is what i did, but it’s purely about experimenting.

step one:  I took a small cardboard box (all I could find) .

Step two: i put a hole in the box (no wait!! That wasn’t it, just kidding, if you got the joke than good on ya mate!, if you didn’t then ask me offline :o))

the REAL step two: i put black construction paper in the box. I sort of shoved it in there so it curved on the corners.

step three: wipe the scanner dust free!

step four: place the flower on the scanner & the box over the scanner hit scan and see what pops up.

step five: crop, darken overall image & do whatever tricks or actions you like in Photoshop or elements.

i love the depth & clarity of these images. the red bottle below is a tiny apothecary bottle that my sister, Kristeen, gave me. she gave me a few of them but this one is the coolest because of the tree of life. the brown bottle is just a liquid stevia bottle from Whole Foods. we grew these smaller flowers in our garden & then dried them several months ago ~ they just keep on giving!

next i want to experiment with other objects to see how they turn out. perhaps fruit, or utensils or who knows. if you try it, please share what you came up with. if you need any tips let me know OR if you have any tips for me. it’s more fun to create together.

in case you are curious or just annoyed, i’m writing in all lower case because i’m feeling childlike, giddy & free today! i wonder if it had anything to do with coming clean about melancholy’s visit last week? hmmmm, i love that dirty laundry.

red tree of life apothecary bottle