24 x 30; acrylic poured on canvas
No, it doesn’t require much technique, but it’s a fun way to cover a few square feet of empty wall. I did this as a sequel to Parallels since I had leftover paint.
Regular visitors to Mars Will Send No More know I am a big proponent of using journals and sketchbooks as tools for nurturing artistic and poetic inspirations, personal growth, and ideas for writing projects. In 2015, I published a 150-page dream journal called Three Years Dreaming; and in 2016, I published a 100-page, full-color retrospective of drawings and paintings called Sketchbooks Volume One.
But my first publication of 2017 is devoid of words and pictures of my own creation. It’s a blank book called Journal & Sketchbook: A Place for Creativity, and it features 100 lined pages and 50 unlined pages—all waiting to be filled with words and images, at a conveniently portable 8.5 x 5.5 size.
The cover to this paperback features a scan of an abstract acrylic painting, one of a dozen 8 x 10 canvases I created in the last two months with the intent of making unique, colorful backgrounds and textures for book covers, business cards, website banners, compact disc covers, and anything else that needs a personal, artistic touch.
The title page, instead of displaying my name, has a blank line where you can write in your own, and places to write the dates when you start and finish filling the book. In other words, this isn’t a book by me. It’s a book by you!
Painted butterfly bushes
and permanent flowers
whose colors never fade.
Here, a panther can dream
or a child, even children
whose bodies time has aged.
Some verdant forests are
denied the waking and only
grow in starlight, real
or imagined. When you look
with your heart and not your eyes
you see a different truth.
Blue & White Nebula
Notes: Created on an 8×10 canvas mounted on board. Using a trowel, I smeared on a thick layer of white semi-gloss acrylic house paint and let it dry. Then I sprayed it with water and dropped Golden brand liquid acrylic artist paint, in Prussian Blue. It made these interesting patterns as it diffused through the water.
Now let’s have some rock from the band Nebula, from the Nebula/LowRider split album:
I’ve been experimenting with a new method of creating colorful, visually interesting backgrounds for things like book covers, business cards, and blog headers. It begins with painting 8 x 11 canvasses which are mounted on a board instead of a frame. They fit nicely on my scanner, so I can digitally manipulate the images later. This one began as a collage of pages torn from a proof copy of my new poetry book. It ended up as the cover to a new book.
Throw a filter and text on it, and it comes out like this:
It looks pretty awesome in print with a matte finish. Once I get a few good scans, the canvases can be recycled by adding layers of different materials to create cracks, swirls, and other interesting textures. Below is the same canvas as above, but in the process of getting a new, messy layer of krackle over it.
Here’s one I haven’t used for any backgrounds yet, a basic color wash with acrylics.
I had some old acrylic varnish and played around with pouring it and liquid paint at the same time, splashing water on them while they were drying, and mixing them together before pouring.
It isn’t going to hang in a museum or anything, but it’s a fun way to get unique backgrounds and textures. I sampled a section of the image for the current header on this blog. The image’s right half is simply a section of the canvas with its colors inverted.
I haven’t painted in two years. But I recently rewrote a couple old memoirs as a poem about painting, and it felt like time to take some pretty colors and make a big splashy mess in the kitchen again. The blank canvases in my office aren’t going to paint themselves, after all. The working title for the painting-in-progress is The Legend of the Frozen Coast, partially in tribute to the Frozen Coast painting I sold on Craigslist a few years back.
I don’t know what other painters think about when they paint, but I have been imagining The Legend of the Frozen Coast as a pirate adventure story starring Meteor Mags’ great-grandmother and read on a radio program. Explore Nordic debauchery in the icy wastelands! Witness the fate of a ferocious kraken frozen in a glacier for 10,000 years! Set fire to a fleet of brigands and mercenaries! Throw in some insults and salty language from The Pirate Primer that arrived this week, and the tale almost writes itself.
A storm hammers the forest.
The wind rips down his tent.
He can’t make any sense of it in the dark.
The painter drags his sleeping bag to a rock ledge.
It gives no shelter but is clear of the trees.
Electricity tears the sky to shreds.
The rain carries out its assault
not in drops but one continuous torrent.
He huddles in the soaked bag for nine hours,
powerless and small.
Stillness, yet never-ending motion.
The calm shadows of trees on a lake
draw lace stockings on a nightmare.
The struggle for life rages below the surface.
A bee caresses a flower intimately.
He cares nothing for the coming storm.
He is within her and she is within him.
They are one and the same.
Step away from industry. Obliterate
the underlying colors and textures
even when they persist. Use an avalanche.
Give them landslides. Drench them in
thunderstorms of black and broken skies
until they recede. The painter and the canvas
are the cyclone and the shore.
You don’t need to paint this canvas at all.
Do what comes naturally. The painting
will take care of itself.
Sometimes you have those dreams where everything feels perfect. As a tribute to the numerous dreams we’ve had flipping through boxes of never-published comic books, the colors and textures of Dream Journal Nine contain vintage comic books in their depths.
This little 8×10 canvas has been a companion in the painting studio for two years, the object of many small-scale experiments we would later apply to larger canvases. It was once a light-hearted collage called “Perfect! The Master Will be Well Pleased!”
We’ve had much time to consider the idea of perfection, and we have a new perspective on it now. Perfection is a process, not a static state. Perfection is a verb, not a noun. Perfection is how we shape the world ever closer to an ideal we have in our minds. In reality, nothing is ever truly perfect, but that should not disappoint us too much. We are not trying to attain a state of perfection; we work to perfect our less-than-ideal world and make it more ideal.
On the flip side, you have imperfection. The crackled textures of Dream Journal Nine suggests cracks and imperfections. In dreams, the imperfections sometimes alert the dreamer that yes, this is a dream. You notice something that doesn’t seem quite right. And when you pause to think about it, it becomes clear you are dreaming. The imperfections of the dream world make perfect signposts on the road to lucid dreaming and greater awareness in the dream.
Dream Journal Nine could just as easily bear the title Imperfection, for perfection and imperfection form two sides of the same coin, two halves of the same whole.
We recently published three years of dreams from our dream journals in a 148-page paperback, and also Kindle format, called Three Years Dreaming.
This week’s edition of Sketchbook Sundays is all about works in progress. Between cranking out research papers at the end of the semester and a sudden influx of writing, editing, and book design gigs, some of our art projects have just had to get set aside for a bit. So, here’s what we have in progress here at our little outpost on the martian frontier.
Above, this new drawing of Meteor Mags is coming along nicely, but we need a background. Yes, we should probably plan backgrounds first, but we get caught up in inking gasmasks and stockings and then kind of fill in the details later.
Below, our first attempt at painting Mags dancing has proven challenging but fun to work on. She needs her star and anarchy tattoos completed, at the very least, plus some attention to lighting and shadow. And who knows, we might put in some sea creatures before calling it done.
All that, plus we’ve plotted out the next Mags story but haven’t had the mental space to write the dang thing yet. We really thought our break between semesters would be mostly down time, but this has not been the case. Can’t complain though – it’s nice to have the work! Perhaps after this coming week gives us a chance to wrap things up in the business world, we can dive back in and get lost in some artwork.
Keep on sketching!
We sold two paintings today. We had our doubts that anything would ever sell due to a Craigslist ad, but we were happily proven wrong.
Guitar #20: Frozen Coast caught an art lover’s eye on Craigslist. While she was here, she took a liking to Dream Journal #8: Night at the Lake. Good choice! We are very fond of that one, and miss it already.
The business coach we’ve worked for the past seven years often reminds us to take time to celebrate our successes. This carries a special importance when you work independently. After all, a sole proprietor works without any sort of company hierarchy to hand out employee-of-the-month awards, bonuses, or other forms of recognition. Artists working independently face the same challenge.
Plus, you can easily focus on all the things that haven’t yet worked out the way you hoped. If you try ten different things and one succeeds wildly, you might be too caught up in your nine other failures to really appreciate it. It takes a certain mental fortitude to keep moving forward, and celebrating your successes plays an important role in that.
Last week, we had a wonderful chat with a local business owner referred to us to discuss some potential ways we could work together. We mentioned, somewhat dejectedly, that we had only sold about five pieces of artwork since we began seriously attempting it last fall. She said it was funny we viewed it negatively, since she found that number quite impressive.
That made us pause and remember to celebrate our successes. So, we hope you don’t mind if we take a moment to review what pieces have sold in the last nine months. On a side note, our little poetry book has been selling a couple of copies each month, mostly overseas. Though that isn’t a phenomenal sales figure, it certainly does make us happy that the collection is getting out there.
Let’s have a look at what we’ve sold so far.
Behold the Awesomizer sold in February 2014 through eBay to a buyer in the USA.
Diving Frog sold in June 2014 through eBay to an overseas buyer.
Guitar #20: Frozen Coast
Acrylic paint, varnish, and texture media on gallery-wrapped canvas
24 x 30 in. (60.9 x 76.2 cm)
Colors: Prussian blue, anthraquinone blue, deep permanent green, white, black.
This painting is
currently for sale on eBay SOLD.
We enjoy working at this size, even though building up the layers of color and texture on something this size takes approximately forever.
Below we have a bunch of close-ups that show just how textured this piece is. The last half-dozen or so pics illustrate its long journey from blank canvas to colorfully tactile art. Enjoy!
A John Buscema panel from Thor #200 (Marvel Comics, 1972) inspired this painting. Measuring roughly 2 feet wide by 3 feet high, it comes on unframed canvas. The canvas comes from Fredrix, intended for use as a floor mat. It didn’t make sense to us how a loose piece of canvas on the floor would become a floor mat, so we nailed it to the wall for a couple weeks to paint on it.
Unlike the small pastel study from last year of this same panel, it wears a metal bracelet, hinting at the eye in a similar tribute to Jack Kirby. The detailed reflection lines on the metal became the focal point of the painting. Frankly, that results in a somewhat unbalanced piece, with the eyes drawn to such a low center point under the mass of the open hand. It may be worth coming back and adding another visual element to balance it out: a ring or rings on the fingers, or something held in the palm. It will decorate the kitchen wall until then!
Sometimes it’s fun to paint silly things. Case in point, the galactic banana.
We did the background last summer when we got some good training on basic color wash techniques. We enjoyed it so much that painting over it became nearly impossible. It suggested many grand epic things to us, most of which seemed to lie entirely outside our ability to execute. Do you ever have projects like that? Projects whose potential scope becomes overwhelming to the point where all progress stops? Maybe it’s time to stop being so serious about them, and just go bananas!
Banana may not be a masterpiece, and it may never enjoy its own page in an art history book with a polysyllabic discussion about the conceptual meaning of it all. But, it made us smile, and sometimes that’s enough. Here are some close-ups to enjoy.
Partially obscured by mists and fog, Winter Woman contemplates her season. Maroon suggests an inner warmth, the warmth of love and home or a comforting fire in the coldest months of the year. In her serene repose, Winter Woman expresses the season where life takes an inward focus.
Dream Journal Eight: Night at the Lake
Acrylic paint, varnish, and mixed media collage on canvas
12 x 12 in. heavy duty frame, 1.5 in. deep.
Our Dream Journal series combines collage, print media, found objects, and acrylic paint to make deeply personal expressions.
Night at the Lake recalls a memory of a dream, a dream written on pages collaged into the layers of this piece. At night, you and your love swim in this lake. Silent fish drift by in the deep waters. The clouds part their fingers to reveal the full moon at its apex above the forest. The two of you tread water together, then dive.
Tiny metal beads adorn the surface of Night at the Lake, finished with several coats gloss varnish for durability and protection, resulting in a glass-like finish. The signature appears on the back of this original piece.
The palm of this red hand contains an eye. The texture suggests a stone carving, but the point of view suggests the viewer’s hand. The image of the eye in the hand appears in many cultures and art traditions. Some believe a charm like this protects the viewer from evil. To someone who works or creates with their hands, the image speaks to the power of their creative vision. Perhaps it can even see into our future, which we also hold in the palm of our hands.