Friday, October 18, 2013

Clockwork Chaos anthology release

I just received word that Clockwork Chaos, a short story anthology which includes my short story,
The Foxglove Broadsides, will be released by Dark Quest Books in November.  I'm very excited and thankful to editors,  Neal Levin and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, for their dedication to this project which has had it's share of ups and downs.  
This is the back cover copy. 

"History, invention, the power of deduction…Clockwork Chaos is more than goggles and gears. It is about order and structure and timing striving for mechanical perfection. But in an era where mass production does not yet exist, the unique machinery brought forth into the world is at times bound to fall short of the goal. This chaos turns the science into mayhem and when the gears spring forth this mechanical viscera is indicative of a world turned inside out. Join us in our journey through the shine of society to the dark steamy underbelly of grit and crime.
Twelve stories of steam-driven genius plumb the depths of human intrigue even as they raise our vision to the skies. Patrick Thomas’s Spellpunk tale Deadly Imitation turns the Ripper into a tourist attraction. Gail Gray’s The Foxglove Broadsides uses the power of the press to bring down the political machine. And Jeff Young’s Ambergris in Ice gets to the grist of the matter on the issue of smuggling.
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but read on to discover how mods make the man.
 Featuring the work of Jeff Young, Richard Marsden, Matt Dinniman, Bernie Mojzes, R. Rozakis, Patrick Thomas, Angel Leigh McCoy, Gail Gray, Patricia Puckett, James Chambers, N.R. Brown, and C.J.Henderson

Edited by Neal Levin and Danielle Ackley-McPhail"

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sketchbook - women's heads

While I spend a great deal of time painting or working with encaustics, I also enjoy drawing and sketching. 

Since I started out painting before learning how to draw, I find it challenging but rewarding and I'm still a rank beginner at drawing.  But sometimes it works and I've been happy with some of my pieces.
Lately I've been doing more women's heads, some perhaps for the Victorian women series in my encaustic

work, but some I'm trying to do as contemporary women.  I use photos as references since I've never been to a class where they have live models for figure studies.  Classes have been held  here occasionally but they never worked out for me.
I've been using some of Julia Margaret Cameron's black and white photos since she focuses on Victorian women.  She was one of the first serious female photographers in England and spent hours on her compositions, developing her photos at first in a chicken coop.
I like the way she poses the women's heads and takes photos from different angles.  They're more interesting than just full on front poses with the subject looking at the viewer.  Her women are often pensive or even melancholy.  Because her models were people she knew, they translate well to a contemporary look when not sketched in costume or the clothing of the turn of the century and with their hair down and natural.
Some I've done in charcoal and some in pencil.  She uses a lot of shading and high light and dark contrast. .  I chose to play it down in case I want to use any of the sketches for transfer onto beeswax and I'll be drawing the women in either charcoal or conti crayon which comes out much darker than pencil. . 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Playing with Abstracted Portraits

In between painting landscapes, I've been playing around with figures and faces. I'd call these abstracted portraits in some cases because the first two are abstracted from real people, but I don't know if they'd be considered abstract portraits.  I've always enjoyed
painting figures and have never painted them in much of a realistic style so leaning towards a more abstracted view of the human figure or face is much more to my taste, except in my drawing.
In painting,  I've been influenced  by many artists and they're all jumbled together in my head from the painters during the heydays in Montemarte, such as Modigliani, Van Gogh, John-Edourd Vuillard and early and late Picasso (not so much his Cubist period) to contemporary painters  Dave McKean, Nick Bantock, Ascenscio and Desjardins.
 I call it play and I don't know any of the rules, I'm just trying to capture an essence, a mood or even just the look on a face. I enjoy experimenting with distortion, exaggeration, perspective and perception.
 I started this current series painting my friend and fellow artist, Szag Randahl, who
has a very recognizable face and style. 
I guess I'd say these pieces are more like interpretations of the people I paint rather than they way they look in person.
Another one I did is of Chris Conner. It's so stylized its not a likeness many people may recognize.
This is of him in his role as performer, where he takes on often extreme characters. This pose is of a pause - a moment when he seems to be shutting himself in from the audience for a moment preparing to unleash the personas he becomes onstage, which are very different from his rather shy everyday personality.
The third one I've done so far is a woman whose expression is full of doubt.  I guess this is where I stand at this moment although it's not a self portrait. I'm much older than this woman and a red head.  I've come to the conclusion that I paint dark haired women when I'm trying to accept darker personas of my psyche - women who don't hesitate to display negative moods or experiences.

The woman is not of anyone in particular.  As I was painting her, I let the way the paint landed dictate what I would do next. This was more of a subcomscious, stream of consciousness painting, where I just followed the mood and painted without planning or forethought.  She's raw and rough but I like the way she turned out because she caught a mood I was trying to express.  One of doubts and questioning with a sort of stern and cynical
viewpoint as to what the answers might be. She's blue because I happened to have a lot of pthalo blue left over from a previous piece (I tend to use similar colors on different paintings completed around the same time). I used heavy oils on this one and larger brushes going for an overall look as opposed to details.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Encaustic Abstract Landscapes - Sunrise, Sunset

One of the more rewarding aspects of painting abstract landscapes is working with both sky and water in the
same piece.  And there's no better times of day to capture than sunrise and sunset simply because of the way an artist can play with shapes and colors in the way they work the reflections in the water.
After about two months of rain here in the southeast in South Carolina, I felt a need to move away from the misty and dream like landscapes I'd been painting to digging through my paintboxes and baskets to find some bright bold colors to play with as opposed to the muted blues and grays.
Working on both 4X4 and 8X10 cradled wooden art boards and on larger 16X20 canvases, I turned my attention to mountain scenes during sunrise and sunset. This gave me the opportunity to play with palettes of yellows, oranges and reds.  It
may have been dreary outside  my window and gloomy in my studio but it was bright and bold on my easel.
On these pieces, I did less of the scumbling and removing of pant that I do with the more misty panels and  instead focused on layering, often wet on wet with my oils using vermillion red, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cadmium green, terra verte, thalo yellow green, Payne's gray, titanium white and  ivory black.
On the wooden cradled art boards I used oil and beeswax encaustic, while on the larger canvas piece, I simply used oils since beeswax will crack when the elements swell and shrink the canvas.
While I love the dreamlike effects on the more moody dusk or misty works I did in blue tones in the past, it's fun to play with cloud formations in the sky, along with the vanishing points to create moods and distance  in these sunrise and sunset pieces.
For materials this time I used Artist's Loft wood art boards from Michaels, a mixture of Grumbacher and  Winton oils and R&F white beeswax mixed with Damar resin for the encaustic finish.
After painting the landscapes with the oils, I allow them to dry for at least a week before applying the
encaustic glazing which adds dimension and texture to the finish.
The smaller 4x4 pieces serve as my "samplers" the opportunity to test out a concept and see if it works.  Since they will stand they are nice additions to a bookcase or mantle either in groupings or alone.    


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mood and Atmosphere in Landscapes

It's been raining off and on, mostly on for over a month now in South Carolina, reminding me a lot of New
 England weather.  I'd forgotten how much such weather can affect mood.  I'm more subdued and introspective, perhaps even a bit melancholy and while I've painted some sunrises and sunsets in bold reds or yellows in my oils/encaustic series, I tend now to be painting in only oils and am using an entirely different palette, more blues, dark greens, amethysts and blacks.
I'm painting my mood, something I can't avoid, and find that ruins of old castles or fortresses express what I'm feeling. When working on such pieces, I'm a lot looser, using brushes, rags and even my fingers to blend the oils in unusual ways to represent mists, water and darkened buildings in the distance.  It's a more tangible process and easier way to create an atmosphere which represents my mood and allows the sky, water and hulking buildings, which could be any seaside castle or fortress in the British Isles or on the French coast, take on a life all their own.  Perhaps, being less controlled, I'm allowing my subconscious a bit more free reign in the way the paintings progress.
I started on a 4X4 piece of cradled art board as a sampler, simply to start a process of working with blues
and blacks.  In continuing with my architectural series I roughed in the ruins even before I made the conscious decision and creating the sky and ocean arose from the bleakness of the buildings.
I wanted to create a sky the was somewhere in that liminal eerie in between world of dusk - a sky that may be threatening storms but with a hint that tomorrow may bring moments of sunshine.
I chose to use phthalo blue, ultramarine, violet, Payne's grey, amethyst, lamp black and titanium white on my palette to create the mottled, unpredictable sky.  I use a good bit of scumbling technique in the sky with layers or colors, adding darkened under edges a day or so later. On the 4X4 pieces I did use encaustic but decided to with just oils on the next piece, an 8x10 cradled art board.  I used the same palette, the same concept and the same techniques since the smaller boards are the test pieces for the larger pieces.  But after the 8x10 I wanted to go larger and moved onto a 16X20 canvas, painting over a half finished painting I didn't like.  I do this every once in a while.  It feels better than looking at the half finished piece with all its flaws and saves money. 
Because there was a figure on the original painting I covered most of it up except for the moon.  The rest came fairly easy as I allowed the undercoat dictate ways to paint the sky. I had already decided what I liked as far as color scheme to create the mysterious, slightly menacing mood since I'd worked it out on the two previous smaller pieces.  I allowed some of the darkened green in the lower left hand corner from the underlying painting break through to keep the balance between the dark areas and the brighter influence of the full moon on the ocean.
I have to say this was a fun series to work through the various sizes to expand on a concept.  While I've used the 4x4 inched cradle boards before as samplers to work out an idea inexpensively, I didn't realize the process would graduate to a larger oil painting.   

Monday, July 1, 2013

Victorian Women in Encaustic Transfer

When I visited the National Gallery this past April to see the traveling Pre-Raphaelite show, I hoped it would serve not only as an incredible visual experience but also as an inspiration and it has.
 I'm surprised by the way it has and am exploring new fields I didn't expect.  I've done one large painting in a Pre-Raphaelite style, but most of the work I'm doing is in lead pencil, conti crayon or charcoal - the last two mediums being rather new to me.  I played with them a bit years ago but hadn't done much since then.
While I was working, I did frame a couple of the drawings, but then wondered how the drawings would work with encaustic transfer. So I decided to try transferring the drawings using the white beeswax medium I've been using on some of my landscapes.  And how lovely a combination it is.
I start with a wood surface, some I've found in thrift stores and reprimed and others I bought as natural or primed wood plaques or wooden cradle art boards. I heat the wood surface with a heat gun then applying the R&F beeswax/Damar mixture in layers to the warm surface. Before applying the transfer, let it thoroughly cool.
I started drawing on vellum instead of on drawing paper after the first couple of drawings, hoping the conti crayon and charcoal would lift off easier and take to the encaustic.  On paper the conti crayon and charcoal sinks into drawing paper but the vellum being doesn't have any "teeth" any areas where the medium can sink in and be lost, so the drawing sort of floats on the surface.
To complete the transfer, I place the drawing face down on the cooled beeswax then rub the back with a number of instruments like you would for a grave rubbing. I use a Martha Stewart bone folder on the rounded sides especially for large dark areas such as the hair. I also use the rounded bottom of a make up brush handle because gets into the dips in the wax most of the time.
I say most of the time because beeswax is not an exact medium - it has properties and a mind of its own depending on many factors - how much was applied by the brush, how hot it was at the time of application.  It will also have small bits of vegetable matter in the mix since the Damar is sap from trees.  Sometimes you can pick the pieces out of your surface with a tweezer after you've applied the beeswax to your base, but there are tiny specks that you just have to put up with. 
It's kind of a daunting process for me because I'm have less control over it than I do with painting.  There's always that moment after I've done the rubbing just before I peel back a corner that I panic as to whether the process worked.  Sometimes it doesn't work the way you expected - there may be parts missing or faded out but that's the mystery of it and the way it gives a piece a vintage look. It feels pretty magical when, after you've peeled away the vellum, how the image looks back at you from the wood covered with beeswax.
More examples to come on my website. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ribbon Cutting at Les Beaux Arts Gallery

I'm getting excited because Friday, June 21st at 4:00 pm will be the ribbon cutting at Les Beaux Arts Gallery where my work is on display in the Village at the West End in Greenville, South Carolina.
While we've been open for a few months, with great crowds at our First Fridays Gallery crawl and other events,  we decided to hold our grand opening and ribbon cutting in conjunction with our neighboring gallery, Midtown Artery.   This is such a fast growing area, long the local arts district - bohemian and diverse hosting a number of galleries, boutiques,  jewelers, local eateries from places like the Zen House to Naked Pasta. All local businesses! 
Les Cormier, owner of Les Beaux Arts is such a lover of the arts that his excitement is contagious.  Every time a new artist arrives, his eyes light up, and  you can see how invested Les is in the mission of his gallery which is to bring a very diverse selection of art to the public's eye.  He works tirelessly on recruiting new artists and cultivating visitors to the gallery and he and his staff of Patricia Wilcox and Szag Randahl are eager to talk about their artists backgrounds and their art and educate the viewing public on the various mediums and styles found in our gallery.  Everything from woodworking to painting, pottery to encaustics.  
Ever since being in the gallery, I've met so many wonderful artists and learned a great deal. We host close to 40 artists now in our gallery alone and so many have become teachers and friends, from Llloyd Thibodeau who taught me about the vanishing point to Patricia Wilcox who helped me a great deal with composition on my abstract landscapes. since I'm constantly experimenting and learning, I welcome every suggestion, comment, critique and bits of advice. 
Hopefully by Saturday, I'll have some great photos!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Encaustic abstract landscapes

In continuing my series of encaustic landscapes, I've worked both with oils as the under painting on wooden cradle boards with  overlays of  R&F
white beeswax which I melt with Damar resin to create my medium .
Or, I tint the beeswax medium  with oils to produce the atmospheric effects I want solely using beeswax.
 In my current series of abstract landscapes, I'm trying to create a mood, mysterious somewhat melancholy, probably due to the New England weather where  countryside and mists offered such moody landscapes over the fields around where I lived as a young mother.
I grew up in the city, but lived in the countryside near a lake for about ten years and passed horse farms and large colonial farmhouses when I drove into town.
 Since my mother was born in London, I've long been an avid Anglophile and love landscapes with lonely towers, castles, manor houses, cathedrals and church steeples.
So I've created a series of towers and ruins both in oils and encaustic on wood as well as with oils on canvas.  I like the richness of the oils as the base and the addition of the encaustic beeswax creates a dreamlike mystique.
The beeswax overlays also make the paintings more cohesive somehow.  It doesn't blend the paints as I feared when I brushed the hot wax over the surface or disturb the lower level even when I've only allowed it to dry for about a week.
But once completed it creates a subtle effect by virtue of the wax textures giving the viewer the illusion that they're viewing the architecture from a distance,  The atmosphere appears heavy with moisture. And the gleaming finish you achieve when you polish the wax with a soft cloth makes it all  luminous. 
I work on boards as small as 2x2 and go up to 11X14 preferring smaller pieces which can be combined and hung together.   

Monday, May 20, 2013

Encaustic Transfer

One of the reasons I wanted to do encaustics was because of the transfer technique.
  I'd tried it before with

different medium withtout much success.  And the first time I tried it with beeswax wasn't much better. I used a photocopy of a 1920's era photograph because I wanted to keep the photograph to use in pother projects. When I applied the photocopy to the wax, the wax was still warm and pliable.  It turned out to be a massive failure, many parts of the photograph didn't take, the paper wouldn't come away after I wet it down and all I was left with was a blackened blob.
But after talking to Greg Flint, a dedicated encaustic artist, at the Art Bomb show this past weekend,  I had more hope. He told me that when he tried it first, he used warm wax, which was the way I tried it. He failed too. Greg  recommended waiting until the wax had ctrying it with cold wax. It's just been amazing to me how helpful and encouraging all the artists of the Village have been.  they've offered me tips on techniques and supplies and haven't hesitated a moment to share their methods. 
I found much more success.  so far I've only tried it with a conte/crayon/oil pastel drawing of a mermaid which I call the Melusine. I wish I'd taken more photos of the process. The first photo is of the drawing I used.

The second one is the finished product.
I had started with a thick walnut colored board of wood I found at a thrift store.  the kind crafters used to do decoupage on in the 70's and 80's.  I painted it seafoam green with acrylic paint. Then I covered it with about three layers of white beeswax
medium to give it a smoother ground. 
I cut my drawing to size and laid it face down on the board and burnished it first with a spoon and then with the rounded handles of my Bare Escentuals make up brushes in the foundation application size and then the eye shadow size.  These worked great for getting into all the crevices and dips.  I could actually hear and see the paper adhering to the wax.  I finished it off with the rounded end of a bone folder and then carefully peeled the drawing away.  I didn't wet the paper, at all this time. And it worked beautifully.  It looked a bit more antique when finished because I didn't catch every spot but I wanted it to look ancient.  I then added color to the shell in her hand and in her mermaid skirt and finished the edges off with gold leaf.  This process took more time to do than the actual transfer.  I knew these would apply pretty well, because I tried  the word "Berlin" in charcoal on the piece that didn't work out which unfortunately I've already covered over with colored wax for another project.
I'm going to make an attempt to do another piece using a photocopy.  And will take photos of the steps I use.

Eancaustic Abstract in Landscapes and Architecture

The addicting nature of  encaustics has driven me to try lots of new techniques. Maybe that's the draw. 

 A recent piece I've been working on is in with oils or guache and the beeswax mixtures, sometimes working with layers of oil or guoache first, then adding layers of tinted beeswax.  I find it works beautifully in abstract landscapes or architecture because of the depth of the lower levels in the traditional paints and then the luminosity offered by the colored beeswax layered over white beeswax.  I've painted a few mixed media oils in abstract architecture styles, but find the beeswax as an added medium not only adds texture but that illusive far off in the distance mystery which I like in abstract work.
Like with other medium, I know nothing about the rules of abstract art, but Patricia Riddle, one of the artists at Les Beaux Gallery, as well as a staff member, has been helping me with some basic points.  Never in a million years dd I think I'd be learning about abstracts. I just thought my earlier pieces were distorted architectural pieces. So the learning curve takes another twist.
What's so unusual about beeswax is that it gives a very ethereal look to any art which is what I was seeking in Bell Towers. When smooth  and polished the wax shines and glimmers like a transparent metal.  And when textured it adds depth to a piece.  I was pleasantly surprised with the paradoxical combo of these effects on Starbirth such as in the rough texture of the earth and the glimmer of the glass buildings of some unknown planet.  
My inspiration comes from real places in my past, places I've glimpsed in dreams or fantasy, film and other artists. Wendy Farrow is one of my favorite artists.  She does a number of styles - all very ethereal. And Julie Shakbee Hughes inspired me with one of her pieces of France for Belltowers. I loved her image of spires in the distance.
I tend to work on two or three at a time if using oils to give each layer a chance to dry before adding the next layer or wax.  I can finish a background in a day but then it takes a week or two to add the final layers of painted wax and then the tweaking with color balance, line or even composition.  Some of the simpler appealing pieces such as Hampton Marsh may take longer than the more complex pieces. This piece is one where I'm trying to catch an area near Hampton Village in New Hampshire where one could see marsh for long distances and during hide tide the marsh would fill up and glisten during sunset. I've even taken a piece to hang in the Gallery at Les Beaux Arts and once seen in the lighting there noticed an area that needed to be changed and take it home again for more tweaking.
It's a constant ongoing process.   

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Encaustic Talk

More and more I'm meeting experienced encaustic artists. During last First Friday (May 3rd) I met Patricia
Kilburg, a fascinating artist with lots of tips and stories (including some of disasters with wax) about the world of  encaustics.
Tricia Earle also shared with me how beeswax and resin, the first medium humans ever used to make art, is dated back to Greek and Roman times.  And Patricia noted that encaustic is Greek for "to burn in."
along with the history and artist's stories, I'm learning more about this seemingly simple but actually quite complex art, at least for me.  I love it, it;s fun, but it''s also fickle and can be dangerous: breathing in too much Damar resin, working with butane flames, spilling a large amount of hot wax in your home, as Patricia did.  Thank goodness she's now in a studio at the Flat iron Building in the Village at the West end here in Greenville, SC. where a mess is not so much of a disaster to clean up.  The wax is not difficult to clean off tabletop surfaces, just heat it up and wipe away . It even polishes my butcher block counters, but when spilling a large amount you end up wasting a lot of wax unless you can figure out how to crack it and pick it up in the solid pieces when its cooled.  I'm not sure what Patricia did and hope to never have to learn.

So inspired by Michael Ziemer, Tricia Earle, Patricia Kilburg and Paul and Greg Flint, I carry on feeding my newest addiction. I've traded the smell of linseed oil for melted wax.  I've learned a lot so far about which surfaces to use and which mediums but learning to control the wax is almost as difficult as water color to me. Although wax is so much more forgiving, heat it to move it or to peel back a layer if something doesn't work.
Patricia showed me how she uses the butane torch which smooths the wax to a satin-like finish.  She made it look so easy and not so dangerous that I'm tempted to add one to my heat blowing tool.
 I also saw how much wax she could hold in an electric skillet and I'm on the hunt at yard sales and the flea market for one.  I love my small heating pan from Ranger Inks and so far haven't needed massive amounts of wax at a time, but so far I've been working on rather small surfaces. The largest I've used so far is the one entitled, Berlin" 11X14, where I attempted a transfer technique and it didn't work. So I have to heat that board clean and start over.
So my newest pieces continue the series of  strange landscapes but this time I'm combining my fascination with the universe and the beauty of the death and birth of stars. The first on is "Starbirth"  and takes place on a planet I've only seen in my mind's eye.  And the second is "Magellenic Cloud."  the cloud of gases and particle resulting from the death of the star prior to the formation of new stars and galaxies.  these have been a lot of fun as well as an experiment working with gauche and white beeswax on primed and umprimed board surfaces. I now prefer the primed. I have a few more I want to do in this series.

Monday, May 6, 2013

IAMX - The Loft -Atlanta, GA 2013

The band and crew may have felt waterlogged but you couldn't tell by the dynamo that was IAMX this night
of deluge.  The show at The Loft on May 4th in Atlanta, Georgia, was a darkly brilliant patch in the weekend - like a comet in a night sky. IAMX and Chris came in, warmed us with  his remarks, fueled us with their energy, recognized us in the watery essence, each and every drop of us together, in the unified field, and drove us onward in the search Chris shares in both authenticity and awareness. Chris was dripping wet from time to time - but his fire burned from all his accumulated history and blazed for those of us who care to look in the dark and then look inward.

Chris posted a photo of the drive from Atlanta in the rain - the same view going into Atlanta for the concert.
 Here's the link:

The show was up close and personal - steamy - that's how to categorize this electrifying concert.  Jeanine, Jeff and I slogged through heavy downpours to the Loft, located where Centre Stage is in Atlanta, arriving just in time to see the line of beautifully freakish people, so many dressed out for the grand occasion, despite the 4-5 inches of rain that fell on the area. As lead singer, musician, brains, Chris Corner said on twitter. "Oh lordy lordy...amazing southern crazies, blowing us away like that. What a bunch of gorgeous freaks. Love2uAtlantaCCX "

 We stood in the crowd near the stage for 2 1/2 hours to maintain our 2nd/3rd row from the stage position, all depending on who tried to move in front of us. The concert was worth every minute of the wait.

The stage was tight, I mean tight, no room for mistakes in movements as evidenced once by a roadie trying to fix one of Chris's electronics.  But the band managed to put on a vibrant and visually manic performance, utilizing every inch, belting out every song. The stage was also very dim, with a off and on spot so that
sometimes the stage was really dark.  It was lit from the back, don't know why there wasn't as much action from the front but IAMX played in such a way that you didn't care until you got home to look at any video you shot.
Lots of people with cameras at first, which was irritating, but they went away after two or three songs.
 IAMX played songs from the new album The Unified Field on this the Animal Impulses tour, but also fed the crowd's sentimental craving for older songs, including Kiss and Swallow,  Tear Garden, Nightlife and a few more, I was too absorbed in the moment to keep track.  I wish I could recall which ones, because there were a couple of dance remixes which were brilliant. Very different and more upbeat form the originals, one may have even been a ballad redesigned.  I have to say, Sorrow, was one of my faves from The Unified Field, with its sweet melancholia and vulnerability.  - as well as the title song. Tear Garden where Chris showed, a frail and intensely human side, even while his stage persona was present, his voice payed the price for earlier songs. The lyrics drifted out to us from a personal place, for a moment I felt like a voyeur, but couldn't look away or even feel guilty, because it was an invitation for us to examine our own frailty in this cosmic unpredictable comic of life. The rampant performer who later seemed too pent up for such a small stage revealed the Philosopher, one inclined to introspection and not afraid to show it.  I loved the paradox, which showed up in other songs too, which is one of the main reasons I was thrilled to be there.  His lyrics reveal so much about the human nature of a seeker who can't stop thinking, one ready to rip the veil off of every scam perpetrated by our societies, an indoctrination hard to escape unless one's ready to throw everything away. He's aware and he wants us to be aware too.
I Come With Knives was one of the stunners - Chris was in rare form, and the performance spellbinding. I was intrigued all night lone at how precise he could be in his movements on the drums, beating out the songs with the microphone faster and faster, yet still in such constant fluid motion, alarmingly erratic at times, frantically energized.
 It was like watching a Shaman, taken over by other elements, driven from within by an uncontrollable, but perfectly controlled essence.
To prove the point, Chris walked out onto the hands and shoulders of the audience and sang while holding onto the spotlight supports. Wow. And during the when, Chris came out wearing a black horse paper mache  horse mask, the Shaman was revealed. I view the horse as a symbol for spirit and have painted it in a number of my works - and a black horse, is the spirit of the subconscious breaking through and instructing us on our real path as opposed to the path enforced by societal standards.
 In voudou, when the voudou priests open themselves up to the gods, they become "ridden" by the gods.  They call it "riding the horse. So when Chris pushed the mask up and peered at us, his heavily mascara-emphasized eyes evident from beneath the horse face - it only enforced my conception of Chris as shaman - especially since he speaks for all of those believing in the call to wake up and realize that in the unified field we all have an equal chance to create our realty. What a perfect ending to a night filled with Tesla level electricity.
I took the show as a not-so-subliminal challenge to not only wake up, but to acknowledge. The night proved all the more  valuable because we went through the 2 1/2 hour dreadful drive and then the  2 1/2 hour standing initiation first, I imagine everyone in the room, from the band and road crew to the Loft staff, to the audience felt it - that effort to face the elements only to experience a confluence of elements of a different and alchemical nature.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Artisan & Authors Fair

Despite the heavy downpour of rain, we had a huge turnout of authors, artists and visitors at the Artisan and Authors Fair held at
the Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
What a great experience! Szag and I found the deadline for a full on arts festival great motivation.  I finished three encaustic pieces, a few drawings and did a lot of framing. And Szag created ten new pieces of artwork in a series he's doing of iconic figures.  It was fun to rise to the challenge to create new work, fun to display it and talk about it with visitors and great fun to meet a talented group of artisans and authors all together in one room.
I was able to hang out with  friends like Vicki, Julia, Bonnie (Who made the marvelous mirror in my bathroom) and Erik, meet people I knew of Author and artist Amy alley and author, Michelle Corey Brown (who headed up the event) and was able to make new friends.

I was fortunate to sit beside James Alexander Fowler, who by wonderful synchronicity for me, has written a beautiful book, Wild Orchids of South Carolina.. I had to get it, once I saw the incredible photos, but also for the great research and facts to Orchidelerium.  John traveled through many bogs, meadows and woods to find these specimens, took up close photos of every variety, but also captured them in as singles or in their groupings in their natural environment that future orchid seekers could recognize them easier.

The only nerve wracking part was when I had to do a reading form my novel, Shaman Circus. While I've done poetry readings and book signings, I never read from a novel before.  But my audience was gracious, had great questions and were very supportive after I read the first chapter, so I feel I can read again if need be.

There were many positive observations to take away form a day like today. Even though the heavy rain was daunting when I first started the day when I'm in more pain than usual and tend to stay in bed, I discovered that once unpacked and set up, the camaraderie in the room from so many diverse artists and authors was invigorating.  This may have been we'd all been spread outdoors, but it was fun to see how it
seemed like a European market - visitors discussing the merits of natural healing balm, organic spices and elderberry syrup or examine the intricate workmanship of a handmade ukalelee. Discussions on styles of art and questions about why some places prefer to exclude nudes, despite the fact that the largest museums in our country celebrate nudes over the centuries.  Conversations geared around spirituality, self discovery, LGBT issues and world situations were carried on as visitors flipped through prints or read the back covers of the many books on display.
I only wish I'd spent more time talking to each and every entrant, was able to attend more readings and brought home more goodies.  My mouth is watering for that elderberry syrup.   


Some Like it Hot

Some Like it Hot - that was the name of an art show held by the Metropolitan Arts Council in March.  Encaustic is the oldest style of painting in the world,                                                             The artist utilizes
beeswax mixed with pigment to create the art.  The form has developed over the years and has recently taken off as a challenging but fun medium to work in.  Now artists use beeswax, white or natural mixed with Damar resin.
After seeing the works of Paul and Greg flint, Michael Ziemer, Tricia Earle and others, I went back to my extreme4m scaprbooking materials.  I've been using beeswax on mat board, in my art for about two or three years now - mostly in making steampunk and Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite style collage works which were featured in a show at Milagro Studios in 2010.  At the time, I didn't now about the resin or that special backing boards were made just for this type of art.  After Some Like it Hot, I was so fired up (forgive the bad pun) that I started a couple of pieces on canvas.  It was only after I spoke with current encaustic artists, that I learned, canvas was a poor choice because the wax would crack as the canvas swelled and shrank with the a temperature.  At the suggestion of Tricia and Michael, I headed to Suburban Paint Co where the highly knowledgeable Brad educated me on the materials, brushes and mediums available for working with encaustics.  And I've
been having a blast ever since.
I heated the wax on my canvas projects and peeled off all the photos which I'd transferred to canvas and sealed them in wax on some board art I'd found at Goodwill. I'm doing of two fun series of encaustics: one on the downtown area using photos my granddaughter and I took downtown, and a number of panels on the The Art Village at the Far West End and Pendleton Street.  These are not art, but more like a kind of Where's Waldo game utilizing photos of the buildings and people I've come to love and know ever since I lived in the area in my studio in 20078 and 2008.  I wanted to capture all the people, studios and galleries which welcomed me into the art scen4e here and acted as inspiration and support. Being an artists can sometimes be lonely and tough - emotionally and financially - especially when one puts a lot of soul out into the world through their work.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Arts and the Village at the West end

This past March has been a hectic, busy month, now that Szag Randahl and I are now showing our art in the
same gallery, Les Beaux Arts.  I spent weeks getting ready, framing, getting the professional materials together, new business cards, wall decal for my section, etc, never dreaming that the hardest thing to find would be a nice wall-mounted business card holder.
It's been a while since I've blogged but all for good reason. My doctors have now found a good combination of meds to treat my fibromyalgia and I'm feeling closer to normal than I have in a long time.  I still have to go slow, pain attention to the pain and signs of exhaustion, but I seem to be managing it a bit better - not where I want to be, especially due to all the work I wanted to do on my current paintings but also the quest for helping Szag find an art studio where he could also live full time.
We finally did at the old Poe Mill business office, a turn of the century building of studios and apartments, less than five minutes from Les Beaux Arts on Pendleton Street. His new place has huge mill windows, crumbling brick walls, and all the smells and ambiance of a historic building - including some of the difficulties such as heat.  But he has it all figured out, if not unpacked and we've had a number of great art and philosophical discussions on all sorts of topics from the art scene in Greenville to the quantum theories.After all, while his masters is in entertainment business and art, his minor is in philosophy.

I've visited the galleries and shops in the Pendleton Street Arts District, now known as the Village at the Far West End and have met more artists, while I'm working on an encaustic project, a series of panels on the Village, past and present. So far I have two large panels in progress, with two or three more to create.  I'm trying to capture the changing nature of the area surrounding Brandon Mill, incorporating facades of the old buildings from the time when I lived in The Village Studios to now.  Many of the artists have changed galleries since that time, but there are those who are fully committed - The Art Bomb, Jim Gorman, Joseph Bradley, Dabney Mahanes, Julie Hughes-Shakbie, those who've moved in since I moved out of the Village Studios, which  include Lily's Pottery, Crave, 'Becca's, Janina Turkarski, Grey Thompson, Artisan Traders, The Barbers' Gallery and then newcomers like the Asaid food truck, Crystal's, The Zen House.
At Les Beaux Arts, we'll have over 30 artists showing their works, once the gallery is filled. We had our soft opening on March 30th, will have a grand opening sometime in May or June and are open on Tuesdays through Saturdays 11-9 and of course, on first Fridays for the gallery crawl.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Magical Realism, Jung, Picasso & the Circus

Without the marginal or liminal world, we are not able to experience the numinous - the mystical experience, the feeling we are in the presence of the gods or a universe which fills us with awe and wonder. Often this happens in nature, sex, meditation and dreaming, but are also primary concepts in both art and the writing of Magical Realism.
The marginal or liminal world which exists outside of the constructs of society, has been named in the past in other cultures: the Celtic Sidh, the land behind Maya, the veil, in East India. It is the place between the real world and the ethereal realm, a magical world, where we confront archetypes, gods and spirits.  Both numinous experiences in liminal or marginal peoples and locations  are where we confront our own inner archetypes, the hidden inner gods, spirits and even the demon or the shadow, as Jung called it. In our dreams we meet dark and dangerous entities and helpful guides. But we can also encounter them in our waking life, by using our lunar mind in creating fantasies and active imagination; in writing, painting and meditation. 
Recently the Asheville Jung Center, presented a webinar called, Tending the Lunar Mind, by Dr. Murray Stein, a noted Jungian analyst who is also a professor at the International School of Analytical Psychology (ISAP) in Zurich, Switzerland, the same university where Jung taught. Dr. Stein spoke about two important aspects concepts of the lunar mind: the marginal and numinous.
 The liminal is the place outside of the practical, organized structured world, but it is real. Gypsies and Circuses both live marginal lives: moving from place to place, and it was interesting to discover that Picasso had an affinity for both, as well as a keen interest in primitive art, creating much along those lines in his sculptures and some of his paintings, but also in little fetishes he hid in his studios. By living as marginal life as a starving artist, not following conventional rules, he could enter the liminal realm, become very much in touch with his lunar mind. This highly evident, as if we had the visual images of his dreams, in many of his paintings where he evokes archetypal motifs: the most obvious the bull, which he felt represented himself, and which he learned to identify with form his youngest days when his father an art teacher, took him to bullfights. Picasso said that he at times, painted his women as the horses on which the bullfighter rode and who were sometimes sacrificed to the fight, as seen in paintings like Guernica, his anti World War II German Invasion of France painting. All of these searches, through the expression of his art, was his search for the Sacred Fire, that powerful act of revelation which comes through creative acts. Picasso's youngest son with Francois, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, claimed Picasso told him how he often didn't realize the symbolism in the images he painted were relevant to his personal life until later, a while after he finished his paintings, such as in Guernica.  
And so he could be close to the deepest depths of the liminal - in touch with the numinous, driven by his left brain/lunar mind thinking. To facilitate this, he chose other people to manage the practical side of his life, his many mistresses, eating in cafes and hiring managers to sell his art.
He was so fascinated with the gypsies who brought the circuses to his childhood home, that he often portrayed himself or others in Harlequin clothes. In the early 1900's in Spain at Carnivale and later to a lesser degree, in France, the Harlequin was not a funny clown, he was more Mercrurial, much like Hermes, whose jokes could often be sinister, cruel and confusing and sometimes even dangerous and terrifying.
Picasso called the circus,The Vague Terrain, as if he was already so entrenched in the lunar mind, that he could name it - a landscape which to him was another place and time.   
I found this all to be rather comforting, and revealing after I watched the brilliant video biography: Picasso: Magic, Sex and Death, which I found at the library. One of Picasso's close friends and his biographer, John Richardson, narrates and interviews members of Picasso's family, people he knew, and their descendants, as well as primary sources.

The books I write and am editing, fall in the category of Magical Realism. Parts of the books are based on fact: locations, politics and weather events (Katrina in Shaman Circus, the n'or easter and tornadoes in Mass. in Shaman Exile, and the flooding in Australia in Fireworks, Interference Equation. The magic is not full out fantasy, but a sort of an escalation, an exaggeration of real events which become magical, often, as lived and viewed by the characters. 

Jung discovered the lunar mind in the 1920's, when he began listen to the fantasies of a patient named Miss Miller, this was before neuroscientists found it in the laboratory and named it the left brain, which he found was emotional, fantasy oriented, and worked in childlike with images and stories. At first, Jung believed the lunar or right brain was inferior to the solar mind, the left brain, which was directed, organized, logical, practical, and followed the rules of society, as taught in the schools and lived in the cities. But as he worked with Miss Miller more and more, he discovered that the lunar mind was a story teller with purpose, it's ability to hyper associate, work in images and storylines, quite different from the real world, but relating to the real world, proved more informative and valuable to the sanity of a person. Recently, neurscience has confirmed Jung's interpretations of the lunar mind and found in clinical research that without sleeping and dreaming, people are be unable to thrive and even survive.Their health suffers, they are unable to regulate their body temperature, make decisions, judge other people as trustworthy, and be correct in the flight or fight syndrome when danger arrived. They end up with their immune system challenged, their anxiety high and become unable to handle their emotions.

I'd often wondered why I called my first novel Shaman Circus, since there's no circus in the novel. Just a rather confusing round of Shamans who can't quite figure out how to live their destiny and more often fail or are punished by circumstance for their failures or perhaps as tests of their commitment, but also manage to create incredible forces of power for good in unusual ways.  My second novel in the Shaman series, Shaman in Exile, does include plot aspects within the liminal world of the Circus in the countryside of France, on the outskirts of a city. I chose to include a circus, because of the amazingly bizarre circus we have in Greenville, SC called, The Inner Circus. Beside scheduled performances, stilt walkers, poi spinners, mimes and other performers dressed in odd, not conventional circus costumes, and sometimes frightening masks, often show up at the park, on Main Street, or art fairs and our first Friday Gallery Crawls in the Pendleton Arts district. When I lived in my studio in that area, 2007 and 2008, it was a highly liminal world. At night, due to crime at that time, the area was deserted, not a car parked anywhere, not a person in sight. This was when I was writing Shaman in Exile. At that time, I had no idea the circus was considered a liminal realm, or that appeared in Magical Realism novels.
 So it was an act of synchronicity to watch the Picasso video after the Tending the Lunar Mind webinar. Now I finally get some of Picasso's cubist works, not my favorite, I prefer his blue period, but now I understand more of what his paintings mean, but also why he kept morphing his style in more and more bizarre styles. Due to the way he felt inclined to paint himself in Harlequin costume, he allows his solar mind, his massive ego, to take the liberty of entering the lunar mind when he stepped in his studio. In fact, eve3n with his solar side, the Bull, when he entered the liminal realm in his studio, he became a shaman, and often thought of himself this way, according to his son, as unpredictable as the Hermes/Mercurial Harlequin.Pierrot. Picasso is one vibrant testimony, among the many in the artists and writers to lfind the lunar realm through creative acts, at the very time Jung was discovering the liminal worlds in the minds and dreams of his patients. 
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