Give Back Your Heart To Itself


Give Back Your Heart to Itself

encaustic collage


My journey back to art after more than 40 years has been one of continual re-discovery.  This month I am taking a beautiful online class called “Poetic Plaster and Wax” from two exceptional artists Ivy Newport and Petra Hrziwnattzki.

This piece is a project from the class and has great meaning to me as it is connected to one of my favorite poems, one that I discovered four years ago as I began to do art again.  It is by Derek Walcott, a Saint Lucia poet who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992, and is titled “Love After Love.”


The piece contains the poem, handwritten in inks and graphite crayon, hidden slightly under layers of paint, pieces of old letters and other ephemera, and encaustic wax.  Incised with marks, it is finished with a rubbing of sepia oil paint.

It now hangs in my studio.


Fruitful Destruction


Mr. Muybridge’s Dancer

mixed media on canvas


This is the end result of what I’d like to call Fruitful Destruction.  I don’t know about you, but I can go crazy buying art supplies.  So for a month I’ve decided to go on an “art supply diet” and try to use up supplies I already have before buying something new.  Not sure if I’ll be able to keep to it, but I thought I’d try.

 I wanted to do another abstract canvas, a smaller one, so I dug out a collage I’d done 3 years ago on canvas.

This is what the original canvas looked like:

all the lovely music white

It was ok, but not very exciting, so I started peeling off the collage elements one at a time.  The leftover glue brought out some pretty interesting textures, and I decided to keep part of the strip of Muybridge photos.

Next, I gessoed over what was left and then started painting intuitively, using a palette of colors that I usually don’t use.  (Using up more supplies….)

In the end, I loved the result, and to tell the truth, there is something very liberating about destroying something and re-making it into something else.  I had no expectations and felt I had nothing to lose.

Another good lesson for me.



collage 1 second version

I ordered some little stacking cubes for storage in my studio recently.  They are very cleverly and sustainably made from recycled paper and packed very carefully.  Before I tossed the packing materials–recycled paper, of course–I noticed how pretty it actually was.   So I’ve been playing with some little collages using the packing material as the substrate.  I’m not sure how they will eventually turn out, but some assorted things on my work table seemed to want to be in them.

collage 2

I played with some painted texture on this one.  Silver paint on rubber matting pressed onto the packing material. And an oak leaf I picked up on a walk.

collage 3

This one I gessoed and added an image transferred on canvas cloth and a washi tape reproduction of a stamp.  The feather is from my best friend’s chicken.

I’m thinking of mounting these on 8 x 8 gallery wrapped canvases painted white so they will have a three dimensional aspect and the corrugation will show on the sides. Stay tuned……

Tuscan Landscapes and other things

   close up tuscan

Tuscan Landscape (Detail)

Working on some more landscape collages.  One large (9 x 12) and two petites (4 x 4).  I love the ephemera in the large one.  Especially the vintage wallpaper “trees.”  Not sure if I can part with this one yet.  The petites will soon be in my Etsy Shop.


tuscan on dresser

Two Petite Tuscan Landscape Collages….(4 x 4) works in progress.  Soon to be in StudioMiradero on Etsy.

                                       petite landscape colage                                                                                         petite bird collage

Now in my Etsy shop are some new embellished Moleskine journals.  Great for gifts!



A few months ago I worked on a small piece….in fact worked it to death.  I set is aside.  First in the trash, and then I fished it out and stuffed it behind some other canvases.   This morning as I was getting out another canvas I saw it there.  While one layer of paint dried on my new canvas, I sliced out the part I liked from the little canvas.  A ragged little piece with a tiny vintage photobooth snapshot of a woman.

close up photo espana

I decided to try again.  Smaller. Less.  I worked with glazes.  I like how it turned out.  But best of all I liked that I ruined my first attempt with my desire for perfection and then salvaged something of it, not the least of which is the reminder to let go, to simpilfy, and keep trying.

close up of espana


Serendipity Redux

serendipity on blue


Mixed Media on Canvas

8 x 8

This is how my serendipitous ACEO that turned into a canvas turned out.  I like it so much, it won’t be in my Etsy shop!  I decided to do gold leaf on the edges.  Working with gold leaf is a lesson in patience but I love how it looks.  I had to put on some very quiet music–the Zen Garden station on Pandora–and remind myself over and over that I was not in a hurry.  Very Zen.  Gold leaf has a mind of its own.  Here’s how it looked as I was working on it.

doing gold leaf

I like to let the edges fray a little to give it a distressed look.

  It’s happily hanging on my wall now.

Serendipity at its best….



better aceo for blog

I  did this ACEO the other day and when I set it aside to dry, I rested it on a canvas I has gessoed the night before.  I glanced at it later and liked how it looked on the canvas.  So I’m experimenting with using it as an element in a larger piece.  Serendipity at its best….

A week of Wabi Sabi–the perfection of imperfection


This past week I attended the first studio art class I have been in since I was 15.   A mix of excitement and intimidation.  The class, Unlocking the Secrets of Wabi Sabi in Art, was offered by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art as their Summer Academy and was taught by two wonderful artists and teachers, Joni Chancer and Gina Rester-Zodrow.


 First Day Art Journal Page–The Empty Bowl

Joni gave each of us a packet of wonderful Japanese papers to work with, as well as some lovely sheets of Mulberry paper on which she had stamped woodcuts.  We started as empty bowls, open, empty of any desire to be perfect, ready to be filled with knowledge and experience.  All still in the present moment. Empty.


Beginning of Boro Collage

In the afternoon we started a second journal page based on Boro, “textiles usually sewn from nineteenth and early twentieth century rags and patches of indigo dyed cotton.  The diversity of patches on any given piece is a veritable encyclopedia of hand loomed cotton indigo from old Japan. In most cases, the beautiful arrangement of patches and mending stitches is borne of necessity and happenstance, and was not planned by the maker.

Imagine that boro textiles were stitched in the shadows of farmhouses, often at night by the light of one dim andon, on the laps of farm women. This unselfconscious creative process has yielded hand-made articles of soulful beauty, each of which calls upon to be recognized and admired as more than the utilitarian cloth they were intended to be.” (from

As the week progressed, I kept adding to the collage.  In a perfect wabi sabi way it was never finished…this day I added the element of gold circles.


On the last day, I added gold thread sewed into the page to suggest Sashiko, a traditional form of Japanese hand sewing that uses a simple running stitch and is seen in many Boro textiles.


(Finished?) Boro collage

IMG_2068Silk Scarf and Onesie wrapped and tied for Shibori

Tuesday was Shibori Dyeing.  Shibori means “memory on cloth.”  We accordion-folded, stitched, bunched, banded and wrapped the textiles around wood sticks and secured them with twine and rubber bands  in preparation for immersing them in vats of indigo dye.


indigo vat

Joni put on music and we were instructed to leave our items in the dye for the length of a song.  Nice timer….


oxidized items

When removed from the vat, the items began to oxidize and turn green.  We left them overnight to dry and unwrapped them the next day to hang out.IMG_1863

my scarf and the onesie for my granddaughter


a wabi sabi moment

On Wednesday morning we talked more about what wabi sabi means and we took a short time to write about a “wabi sabi moment.” I chose a moment when I saw a look on my granddaughter’s face as she was watching two boys, much older than she, climbing/dancing on the equipment at a playground.  I decided to put it in my art journal.  The script is very wabi sabi as you can see and the thought I tried to capture was that of a fleeting moment, a connection between now and the possibilities of the future, a connection between her and me.


old photo from the 1930s

Next we worked on an abstract landscape project and for my inspiration I used an old photo I have in my collection.  We used reinkers and acrylic glaze and acrylics.  This was really new territory for me and I struggled with it.  The reinkers mixed with the glaze give a really beautiful transparency.  They can be layered with acrylics.  My first attempt left me very unsatisfied with everything–the composition, my lack of skills—everything.  Here’s the first attempt.


Gina reminded us that these were not supposed to be finished pieces to hang in our homes but a way to explore the process and the medium.  My old habits kicked in, though, and I was unhappy with what I had done.  I put it aside, thinking I would simply throw it away when I got home. But the next morning I came in early and decided to see if I could “rescue” it with some collage elements.  Much more comfortable for me.  I did kind of like the sky and the trees, so I started using some of the papers I brought, more of the glazes and reinkers, some acrylics, and soon I was in that great place where I felt I had nothing to lose.  In a bit of serendipity, the previous night I had received a lovely little packet of ephemera from France from frenchmanufacture .   Soon I was happily tearing and gluing.




the finished piece

The more I worked at it, the less I was worried about the outcome, the more I liked it, and the more surprised I was. This was a great lesson.  The finished piece is one of my favorites.  Perfect wabi sabi.  (And yes, I am going to hang it in my home.)

Next we worked with image transfers on plaster.  We spread a thin coat of regular household wall plaster on a gesso coated canvas panel.  That dried overnight.  Then we sanded it down and using images that had been printed on Sheer Heaven inkjet transfer paper we sprayed the image with alcohol and pressed it on to the plaster.  The effect (when done right) looks like a lovely fresco.  I tried and tried but only got one to work with a lot of help from Gina.  But….in that wabi sabi way, I again had that what-to-I-have to lose feeling, and I started collaging the pieces of transfer paper that hadn’t worked on to the plaster, got to work with the reinkers and the glaze, some of my French ephemera, some gold leaf and ended up with this:


the (not quite finished yet) last piece

I’m so happy with it, have a few more ideas for it, and I’m excited to use the transfer paper again.  I will just keep trying to do the actual transfer, although I found out that it can be used just as I used it, giving the element a really nice vellum like look.

We spent a lovely afternoon at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on a “scavenger hunt” with our phones and cameras looking for wabi sabi in the Museum.  I combined two together using an app Joni told us about called Photoblender, a iphone app, available in the App Store.


The blend is a modern ballpoint pen and pencil work by Russell Crotty called Worksheet Blue II .  It reminds me of Boro.  The other element is a fragment panel of Buddhist dieties from the 10th century, the corner of which is fragmented.

Our last day was finishing up with studio time and a quick informal exhibition.  A perfect ending.  I was exhausted but very, very happy.


This is my refrigerator when I got home. Pretty empty…food and marketing were not a top priority this week.

So I began the week like an empty bowl and finished with the bowl overflowing with ideas and inspiration, new friends, and a new way of looking at everything.  Wabi Sabi, indeed.