Sunday, November 30, 2008

Beginnings; The Nude Palette

The newest Art Journal Gypsy prompt involved choosing from 4 lists and then creating using the things we chose. My selections: heart; the colors brown, aqua and cream; the background technique of painted, color-washed, or misted; and individual or stand-alone words. Vintage canal photo, ripped up paper doily, rubber stamp images, paper scrap, acrylic paint. Thinking of marriage, the blistering, the drowning, the way the unity begins to flow back in if even just a small controlled canal's worth at first. Nude woman with back facing us beneath a transfer of one of my canal photos. More scraps, rubber stamp images, acrylic paint with a wash of glass paint for sheen. This is a meditative page for me, an expression of ongoing vulnerability that still allows the 'slate' to be completely cleansed, and opens to fresh starts (symbolized for me by the butterflies and the shiny blue hearts, the heart growing a plant).

Boyce Thompson Arboretum - Day Trip with Dad

Yesterday, My Daddy-O, his wife and my darling other mother, Judy, and I gathered ourselves for a day trip to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, Arizona, about a 90 minute drive from Phoenix. I have never visited a botanical garden; I had no notion what to expect except Dad promised TREES, which word would probably lure me out of a coma. My MuthaCam died on Thanksgiving Day, a death from which (ACK!!!!!!!) it can't be revived, so instead I challenged myself to tote a sketchbook and a few drawing supplies. I decided to share with you the two journal pages I actually finished in my written journal, so you could see what becomes of the ephemera I collect, what kinds of small notes I make to capture memories ... and for FUN! I've had fantasies since my arrival in Phoenix, my exposure to the Hispanic culture via friendships, acquaintances, and literature, of being a Curandera, a healer who uses botany as my medicinal cabinet. To arrive at this Arboretum and see that the first trail, closest to the check-in building, was named Curandero Trail? No words for the anticipation I felt. Succulents and shrubs galore, beautiful names I wrote down, plaques in English and Spanish articulating the many uses of each plant. Enthralled, I was. This is where I overcame my extreme self-consciousness and first brought out my sketch book, my pencil and watercolor crayons. Tiny capturing of a blade, a bud, a color. Serenely quiet except for insect noise and the occasional footsteps-on-gravel of other arboretum visitors, or the clicks of cameras. When we first arrived, my Daddy-O turned a corner and saw a view of Picket Post Peak that took his breath away. He stopped cold and got out his camera; I stood behind him and made the quick, small sketch of him shooting the peak. I ripped out the portion on the map that I actually walked. I could spend a week there, take a cot, a warm blanket, 2 or 3 candles. Each 'area' is a completely new atmospheric experience. The eucalyptus forest, for example, is a lawn of tall tall tall white-peeling trunked gum trees, so tall you have to lean almost in a back bend to see the tops, but the trunks are so smooth to the palm, despite the tears where the bark splits and begins to peel. A forest floor littered with peeled bark of every imaginable sand, tan and brown color. And the smell -- eucalyptus, certainly, but laced with the air blowing through, carrying the rose garden, some of the jasmine vines. And across the air, through the branches, the sound of the Native American flute music. It felt like a transportation. My sole page of sketches. In the book I previously posted about, The Art of Travel with a Sketchbook, one of the most encouraging and SMART pieces of advice I read was to create small frames on a page, then really hone in on one tiny thing, draw your focus IN, to reduce the intimidation an entire blank page can induce in a novice sketcher. FABULOUS IDEA!!!! FABULOUS!!!! In the corner, the woman? Was actually my VERY fast take on a statue which stood in a private grove, a narrow tall female holding an infant. The grove offered a bench sheltered under the branches of a gorgeous aged tree which was also shedding its bark. At the base of the tree was a plaque stating the grove had been created in memory of Norma Guzman Celis, 'who had made the lives of us all a joy, and who is painfully missed', along with the names of her 4 children. She died at age 41, in 1996. I had a quiet crying few moments upon reading that, sat on the bench and let myself conjure Norma, her children, their love, tried very hard to use the grove as a place to visualize the emotion that is still alive, and then I drew the face of the statue and wrote their names. As Mari le Glatin Keis, author of the Art of Travel with a Sketchbook, said, along with many of her workshop participants: the simple wash of a color on a journal page has proven time and again to be enough to summon the memory of an entire moment, or dialogue, or event. Now I can say that I understand that absolutely. The upper right sketch, of a peely spiky tree branch extending off the equally shedding trunk of a pathfinder juniper? Reminds me of how the spikes caught my palm if I ran my palm upward on the bark, but not downward, and of a young couple whose two small daughters they pulled in a stunning pink wagon clamored to get out just there, and touch the tree too, and how the littlest girl, maybe 4 at the most, yanked my sleeve and commanded me to 'let me see'. And she was delighted with how tiny the little sketch was! And just behind this family collected a group of shutterbugs with tripods sticking out from backpacks at every possible angle, all in a half circle comparing cameras and lenses and talking 'camera shop' and I was looking around for my Daddy-O, who would LOVE to stand in and join the conversation. So, it looks like a rough sketch of a tree at a weird angle, but it's multi-dimensional for me. And notice how much longer it took for me to write all it signifies to me than to just look at the sketch, now that you know what's behind it? Brilliant, man! True story. Between this page of sketches and the things I put in my written journal, the entire day unfolds before my memory vividly!

Written Journal Backgrounds

Paris Palette. Tag stickers. Magazine image. Paris tag from Bluebird Lane. Vintage envelope. Acrylic paint background with walnut ink mist. Calling All Butterflies. Dial image, The Tuscan Rose. Butterflies by Mary Mata. Basic Grey papers, envelope (which opens for journaling), watercolor crayon background. Emerging. Scan of butterfly woman card made by me, printed on vellum. Doorway photo by Roxanne at River Garden Studio (used by permission), from her trip to France. Nude woman image from The Tuscan Rose. Watercolor background.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dreams of Paris

Reves de Paris (Dream of Paris). Mixed media canvas for Candy, initially inspired by some Paris stickers she sent me. Apologies for a horrid scan, but I already sent it off so couldn't re-do!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rain as a Phenomenon

This just in from my bro', Chris, about the rain today: "We got poured on over here. Now it's drizzling. Patchy doesn't know where to pee."

Patchy doesn't know where to pee. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HEE HEE ho ho ho HAHAHA!

Did you think I was maybe exaggerating when I say it doesn't rain much in Phoenix? When the puppy doesn't know where to pee, I'd say that makes my point.

hahahahahahahahaha HAHAHAHAHAHAHA


OHMIGOD Darling Baby Alert!

Click on this link to see my work buddy Greg's granddaughter, Maddy ... this is the sweetest video I've seen in weeks. [Warning: do not watch if 'baby fever' will be/become a problem!!! I kid you not!! I've been 'fixed' for 17 years and I felt it!]

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Backgrounds Beat Goes On

Chinese Proverb. Two of the stamps from my new Artistic Outpost plate of the same name. The blue/white paper was just a blotter underneath another project, and I loved the calligraphy-like feel of it. Bramble Woman. Paper Artsy rubber stamp images, wallpaper from Patty, color wash background. April in Paris. Rubber stamp images from a Mary Mata plate which was a gift from Veronica. Wallpaper from Ms. Patty, and more Twinkling H20 background wash. I love the sparkle, later, when I go to write on these washes. Angel-Alien. This shape was somebody's perfume sample cut-out; ditto the Angel, Alien spikes. Walk through an upscale department store's perfume counters -- the perfume sample shapes are always fun, sometimes have GREAT graphics, and make awesome little tags & inserts. Papers from my swap with Patty at The Tuscan Rose. Twinkling H2O background wash. She Sat Behind You. Hee hee, I love this ad. Paper scraps, magazine image (door panels by her head), rubber stamp swirl. Spices. Paper scraps, die-cut sparrow, magazine image, homemade tag.
Define Authentic. Rubber stamp image, paper scraps/shapes, stamp pad blobs,magazine images. Seduction. Accidental but cool stencil, wallpaper & red tag from Patty at The Tuscan Rose, 2 of my homemade tags, twinkling H2o background wash. Horseplay and Cons. Photos by me, paint chip samples, Mary Mata collage image, paper scrap. My boys -- they crack me SO up! Hoopstars. Paper, paint sample chip ... my youngest male child on one side of the insert; my oldest on the other, rubber stamp images, cologne sample from Sean John.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Tide is Out

The Tide is Out
After so long
in our ocean of marriage,
very rare come the times
when I really dislike you.
Here, now, I find myself.
The currents gathered, exploded,
then retreated, peeling back all
our structure and
all of our pretenses,
drained us of apathy &
stripped our laziness of
habitual interaction.
Bare the ocean floor of US,
revealed like this,
no waves, no waters, no fluid distractions
or distortions to pretty us up.
Just stark, dark layers of
the silt we tried too long to ignore,
ridges somehow petrified
despite the currents,
now crumbling under our
expanse of separateness.
Not only can't I find you,
I realize that neither
am I looking for you.
Anger, frustration &
withheld apologies stalk us
like piranhas
taking bites out of our
newly exposed,
& dangerously fragile, love.
I know, I know,
the waters will slowly trickle back,
begin to buoy us again,
to lead us bobbing,
thrashing, & spitting dark
slices of our own mud,
in a return toward each other.
I turn my back on it all
and wait, this time,
for it to come find me.

11/23/08, L. Antonia Brown

the journal page: acrylic paint, a drawing of myself covered with clear embossing powder. then I froze the page for about 10 minutes, and cracked the layer of embossed powder to create the feeling of shards.

Art as Antidote

Simple Tasks. Toast catalog images and text. Purple/wine bird from a Cooking Light magazine ad. Nice page, right? Kinda not finished? Yea. Well. Double BB and I have been having some bad days, since Friday ... this page was my attempt to use Art as Antidote, to simmer myself down, to CHILL. Truth is, it feels like complete bullcrap to me, even though it's pretty. So I didn't finish it. Instead I started a different page to tell the truth, instead.

Written Journal Backgrounds

I'm doing so much writing that I made myself stop to do journal backgrounds today! Got tired of plain white paper (ha!) Peppermint Patty. Basic Grey green paper. Olive die cut border from Miss V, along with the woman reaching stamped image (from a mail art envelope). Sticker. Shrimp and martini images from Sam's Club flyer. Blue/pink/green flowered paper (Mode de Paris) opens for more journaling. Peartini. Images from a flyer for Sam's Club. Brown scrap paper - I love the texture of it under a Sharpie permanent marker. The blue/green flowered strip opens for a secret message. Perfect Ending. Favorite magazine image. Basic Grey papers. Stickers. Succumb. This is a piece of wax paper taped in. Magazine image I LOVE!! Stickers. Basic Grey rub-on border. That's meant to be my little Zoe-Toes in the bottom left corner. Take Only Memories. Basic Grey paper, stickers, little Live Life! pocket from a mail art envelope Miss V sent me. This page is underneath the 'Succumb' layover page. It's All I'd Ever Dream Of. Lyrics: Tina Dico. Basic Grey papers. Lake image from a magazine. Graphics from work. Watercolor background wash. Your Shadow Watches You. Lyrics: Tina Dico. Basic Grey papers. Diamonds punched from an envelope. Graphic from some plans from work. Bird image and black picture corners from magazines. Watercolor washed backgrounds. Crab Apples. Photo by John Barker, in Focus magazine. Acrylic paint.

Being a Gypsy

This prompt for the Art Journal Gypsy group is still ongoing, and I got to thinking how much we tend to romanticize the gypsies and their lives, when the truth was, in fact, a pretty sad and shadowy one. The Truth Is. Old woman painted by me, under an arch. All acrylic paint. Being a Gypsy Meant. Acrylic paint, rubber stamped words.

Kinfolk Pictures from Aunt Judy

These just in from My Beloved Aunt Judy, delivered by My Lovely Mother. Kinfolk group photo #1, with Toni actually IN IT!! Toni, cousin Lisa, My Lovely Mother. Toni goes antiqueing in Glendale. Kinfolk group photo #2, with Toni actually IN IT! [oops, I already said that!] Erica, David, and Toni, in the kitchen at "The Ranch."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Green Piece

Ahhh. My precious Miss V received her green piece package, so now I'm allowed to post it here. Again, this was one of our personal exchanges/challenges, to use a color in a monochromatic way on any kind of project we wished. The front cover, previously posted. The theme of this book is to encourage V to believe in herself as an artist. Like all of us, she can sometimes doubt it, but I NEVER DO!! Inside front cover. Title of the piece is YOU ARE AN ARTIST. This is also my first flag book, which I've been wanting to attempt for a loooooooonnnngggg time! Note: NEVER again use corrugated paper for the folded spine, as nothing wants to stick to it. Took 25 pounds of heavy gel medium for each insert to stay PUT. Tags 1-3 - fronts. Each message, front and back, is related to Veronica being an artist. Backs of Tags 1-3. Tags 4-6, fronts. On the far right, not visible in the scan, are the stamped words: USE EVERYTHING IN YOUR ART. Backs of Tags 4-6. Inside back cover, using a scan of one of Miss V's pieces for me, cut into three parts, and a photo of Zoe (also a Miss V fan). A fabric butterfly, rub-ons, buttons. Again, back cover with vintage post card tied on with a ribbon.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Doodle Map

This was an earlier Art Journal Gypsy assignment -- doodle over a full layout ... I deviated entirely from the prompt after that, because no matter how I looked at my first doodle run, it looked like a map. So last night I got out some India ink and a bamboo skewer and played cartographer. My GOODNESS that was fun ... of course you'll notice there is a BEACH on my map. The rest is just an afterthought (ha!) This isn't the entire layout -- most of the right side that you can't see is beach.

There's Insensitive, and then there's .... ??

Yesterday, a beloved friend of mine who is also a consummate artist [and about as hip as they come], told me a story, a true story, a story that's been sticking in my craw ever since.

I need to share.

I need to ask if anyone else finds this disturbing.

Ok, so the story is: my beloved friend made an ATC for someone. And this ATC included as part of its decor/theme a sweet little winged fairy clip-art child. Only this fairy happened to be an African American winged fairy clip-art child. You know, a little Black girl, in a pink leotard with green incandescent wings, & a slightly sad face, & really cute ballet slippers on her tootsies, & some awesome brightly-colored tights.

And the recipient told my beloved friend that her use of the Black winged fairy clip-art child was 'insensitive.'

'da fuck? [ ... I know, I don't usually talk like that on my blog, but ... 'da fuck??!! Insensitive? I am so baffled that 'da fuck' is the best my brain could do when I heard this tale, and the best my brain has been doing ever since.]

So, what ... only little white girls get to be legitimate fairy clip-art images, without raising the 'insensitive' brow?

But -- WHY would 'insensitive' even occur, as a brain wave or even a brain fart, upon seeing a clip-art image of a Black child [or an Asian child, a South America child, an Aboriginal child, a Martian child] as a fairy? I'm struggling here, folks. Really really struggling with that. There's politically correct and there's RIDICULOUS! Right? RIGHT?!

I mean, trust me, my nieces Rylee and Taylor-the-T-Bomb will tell you that little Black girls make seriously BAD ASS fairies -- and also firemen, and lady bugs, and Hannah Montanas and paramedics -- won't be any talking them OUT of their convictions. They would in fact think you really strange & pathetic if you attempted to suggest they shouldn't be acting those fantasies out. Or that they didn't have every right to take over those characters. Or that a photo of them in a pink leotard sporting incandescent wings was somehow illegitimate. Or insensitive.

Now, my nieces happen to be mixed-race (again, Black, White, Cherokee, etc.) with beautiful variations of chocolate-shaded skin tones ... so is it the 'white' in them which makes their play-acting legit? I mean, what?

I know, I'm going too far with this. But I'm stuck at 'da fuck?!' and need some help shoving my brain along!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Is A Gypsy?

Photo of my love, Ciera, by me, probably my favorite photo of 2008. THAT is a gypsy, to me -- free, free, free. The rose photo is by Miss V's hubby and my bud, Rick. The pen (lower left of Ciera) is part of a photo I took. Rubber stamps, acrylic paint, bubble wrap impressions, diamond border diecut. This is the 'before' picture -- the exuberance and unselfconsciousness shown by Ciera in this picture is a message to myself: STAY A FREE SOUL. BE REAL. RISK RISK RISK. And also WRITE. Photo of me by my youngest male child (my fan is from Venice - sigh). Moroccan etched glass photo by me. Rose photo by me, cut in half. Rubber stamped words, bubble wrap impressions, acrylic paint, border strip diecut, script slide background pieces. This is the 'woman' side of the Ciera photo -- myself being the woman -- REACH UP. The glass is a reminder: half full? or half empty. Also, it's become more and more important to me to use personal photos, AND photos of myself, in my journals, to 'bring it home', so that the message is truly PERSONAL and not as easily glanced off. It's very difficult to ignore my own face within the framework of a piece.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tree Response

Nina, at her beautiful blog Ornamental, posted this photo yesterday, with the post itself entitled "Visual Emotion". Go look, read the question at the bottom of the photo, then come back (pretty please).

Below is my answer to the question, originally posted as a comment to Nina this morning -- a definite reflection of my mood today.

See the darkened trunk?
Shadowed --
tired, today,
from all the hanging on,
from weathering the storms
of growth & change, &
more than a little grumpy being
below, one step removed from
the cherished light.
Yet witness the
silver-gold tipped reach,
the delicate filigree above,
impossible without this-my-
sturdy planting, my
determined roots, my
steady hand of waiting,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Art of Travel With a Sketchbook

Amazon says:
Product Description
Hundreds of effective tips and illustrations help launch anyone into the wonderful world of sketching. Mari shares an intimate way to record travel experiences, allowing one to slow down and capture the moment. The approach presented in this book is not about doing good drawing or painting. It is about letting the hand record what the eye sees with whatever tool is available, without rules or recipes. All you need is your hand, your eyes, your heart and the desire to travel differently.

About the Author
Mari Le Glatin Keis was born and raised in Brittany, France. After graduationg in printmaking from "l'Ecole des Beaux Arts" in Paris, she went to South America to draw plants and flowers. She has been sketching ever since. For the past 20 years, she has dedicated herself to book illustrations, and has been leading sketching workshops in Europe, Mexico and the Pacific Northwest, sharing her passion for recording "life as it is".

Toni says:
I just received my copy yesterday - sat on the patio and read it cover to cover ... so accessible, so sensible, so inviting, so ACHIEVABLE ... and includes many different ways to incorporate sketching into journaling, collaging, and to make 'words' an integral part of sketching. Art/journal pages by workshop participants settled all my queasy stomach sensations of 'I can't draw' -- with this book, that is most definitely NOT a prerequisite and NOT the point!!!

Card for My Beloved Aunt Judy

The 'serenity' stamp is from Artistic Outpost, and completely set the tone for this card. The little girl is my maternal grandmother, Lydia, when she was a wee wee lassie! My 'folks' on My Lovely Mother's side were/are all rural, farming people, and this Artistic Outpost image captures that for me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

No More Blank Journal Pages (for a coupla days anyway!)

Hippy Tub. Magazine images that make me grin! Make It Work. Acrylic paint, my rose photo, rubber stamps, Tim Gunn's signature saying! Latte. Paper scraps from swap with Patty. Embossed rubber stamp image, acrylic paint, rollagraph coffee bean stamp thingie ... Love this, may not actually journal on it. Returned Your Call. Paper scraps and magazine images. Nouveau Garden. Images from The Tuscan Rose, magazines, and Mary Mata, truck photo by my Dad. Acrylic paint. Moroccan Sparrow. Moroccan postage stamps from my collection. Arabic writing scrap. All the other papers from my swap with Patty at The Tuscan Rose. Acrylic and glass paint. Moroccan Ornament. Acrylic paints, Arabic text scrap, all paper strips and 'ornament' from Patty at The Tuscan Rose, our swap.

These pages will last me about 2 days of writing.