The Corn God Returns From The Underworld / mixed media

the-corn-god-returns-from-the-underworld

I’m excited because this collage I did a few years ago got a lot of attention yesterday at the art opening of the James River Art League, at the Montpelier Art Center!

It was inspired by the Maya legend and I tried to copy their style of illustration. I have a good book about the Maya titled “The Maya” by Michael D. Coe. One thing I remember from this book is that it wasn’t too difficult for the Spanish who invaded Central America to convert the Maya to Christianity because there are similarities between the two religions, a resurrection being one important story.

This is how the story goes, if I remember correctly. The Corn God was in the Underworld. That’s him, with the green sprout coming out of his head, in my collage. The two guys paddling the canoe are gods who were sent to rescue him. It’s a dangerous trip, and they could all get killed in some violent bloody way. If the Corn God doesn’t make it back to the Maya city, the crop will fail and the people will starve.

The two girls in the canoe are virgins sent to wait on the Corn God. They’re offering him food and water. Later, at their ceremony, the virgins will be sacrificed and the Corn God will be drenched in their blood. Yes, they really did sacrifice virgins. They were a bloody tough tribe that didn’t fear pain or death.

The Maya, never boring, always an inspiration.

The Flying Lesson / mixed media

This is my illustration for a book my daughter, Sarah Hill wrote. An excerpt is posted below.

This is my illustration for a book my daughter, Sarah Hill wrote. An excerpt is posted below.

“Hey Mom,” she said, “Can you teach me how to fly?”

Diana looked up at her and grinned, relief flashing in her face. She clearly wasn’t up for more talking either.

“You sure that’s where you want to start? It’s kinda scary…” Diana trailed off for a moment. “But a lot of fun.” Kayce grinned back.

“Yea let’s start there. I mean once I master flying, I’m pretty sure I can handle anything, right?” Kayce asked nervously. Diana raised her eyebrows, but the smile stayed on her face.

The teenager and the woman stood up and walked out of the room, Diana’s arm over Kayce’s shoulder. “Well it’s not quite that easy, kiddo.” She said, leading the way to the back yard. “But this is definitely the fun part.” Kayce’s heart raced, both thrilled and surprised her mother was so willing to let her attempt such a dangerous lesson right out of the gate.

“Don’t be scared,” Diana said, reading Kayce’s mind. “On Falconera they dropped us off of cliffs when we turned 15.” Kayce’s jaw dropped and her mother grinned and winked. Together the two of them entered the secluded yard, which backed up to the woods and fanned out in a wide, pie-piece-shaped property that hid the other neighbor’s houses on the cul-de-sac behind protective thickets of tall pines.

A few moments later, Diana was standing in the middle of the yard, legs hip-width apart and crouched, her arms out as if preparing to be tackled in a football game. Excitement shone on her face, as if she had been waiting to share this with Kayce her whole life.

“The first thing you need to learn is landing,” she said, still crouched. “Getting up is the easy part, believe it or not, but landing softly isn’t. Falling is not fun.” Kayce assumed the same stance as her mother, and the two women looked as if they were about to start a wrestling bout. Diana crouched low and jumped high in the air, but peaked no higher than a normal person of her stature. However when she was on her way back down, it was almost as if an invisible force was slowly lowering her to the ground.

Kayce jumped experimentally. She landed with ordinary gravitational force.

“It’s a mental thing,” Diana said. “Philippa, Anna, and I all taught ourselves to fly and land differently. I imagine landing on a giant deflating balloon where I can control the pressure. If you picture something sturdy beneath your feet, your body will react that way.”

Kayce concentrated and jumped again, this time with force and effort. Same average rise, same average drop.

“Philippa imagines jet boosters on her feet like rockets. Anna pictures a hook picking her up. I can’t really explain what makes it work. You just have to get there in your mind.” Kayce scowled at her mom and jumped, trying to imagine her mother’s balloon raising and lowering. Then she imagined jet boosters, hooks swinging her into the air, nothing worked. Her heart rate was starting to pick up with the physical effort and the frustration.

When Kayce’s feet touched down again in yet another ordinary jump she let out a frustrated “ugh.”

This went on for hours, Kayce and her mother hopping in the backyard, Diana periodically demonstrating flight on her own, Kayce’s teenage temper flaring after many, many failed attempts. The two of them were both sweating in the summer heat, their dark ponytails frizzing in the humidity and their stomachs rumbling. Diana was just about to suggest they break for lunch, which should have been several hours ago, when Kayce let out a low, angry scream.

“Maybe I can’t fly” Kayce huffed, refusing to meet her mother’s eyes when Diana sat down across from her. Kayce glared at the ground, wishing for some kind of reassurance from her mother but not knowing what she wanted to hear exactly. Up until now, Diana’s mothering tactics have been very positive. Lots of, “You can do it!”s and “Keep trying!”s but Kayce could tell by the silence that her mom didn’t want to lie, and with the exception of Kayce’s inherited super hearing and whatever that was that happened at the hardware store, they had no idea if she had any other capabilities or if she did, what they were.

“We don’t really know what you will be capable of. You might not be able to fly. So much of it we’ll just have to wait and see. We already know you have some pretty amazing hearing, and that thing at Home Depot was definitely speed.” Diana said kindly.

Kayce picked at the grass and tried not to be disappointed. She was a plain old ordinary teenager this time last week. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal to her that she can’t fly; she just found out that was even a possibility.

“Come on.” Diana said, reaching out to her daughter and helping her to her feet. “I have an idea. You have to trust me on this, okay?”

Diana turned Kayce around and wrapped her arms tightly around Kayce’s ribcage. Her face pressed into the back of Kayce’s sweaty neck, and together the two rose slowly into the air, about six feet up with Diana carrying Kayce.

“Mom…” Kayce said nervously, gripping her mother’s hands. Diana tightened her grip reassuringly, and then lowered another foot or so.

“Is this better?” Kayce swallowed and nodded quickly. “Now I’m going to let you go. If you fall, it won’t hurt you, maybe just a bump or a bruise and I owe you a new pair of earrings or a gift card or something. But whatever enters your mind in the instant I drop you, hold onto that, okay?”

“No wait… Mom I can’t do this.” Kayce’s heart thudded and she was sure her mom could feel it beneath the grip on her chest.

“Just try, Kace. I’m not going to let you get hurt.” And with that, Diana let go.

Immediately, Kayce’s back and shoulders warmed, like they had been hit with a direct beam of sunlight. The world was suspended. The hot breeze that was blowing through the trees stopped but all Kayce noticed was the force of what felt like giant wings on her back. Invisible, powerful wings had emerged from her back, right below her rib cage and held her suspended in air. The air did not stir, but the force was there nonetheless; leaving her suspended in midair, inches from her mother’s still arms.

Move up, willed Kayce, and the invisible wings propelled her, carrying her belly-first a few feet up and away from Diana.

Now down, she thought, and she lowered, but lost control and fell too quickly. Her stomach plummeted and her heart raced and the thought of the strong, sturdy wings was replaced with panic as the world resumed its normal pace and she crashed to the ground.

Diana was at her daughter’s side immediately.

“Oh baby I’m so sorry!” She cried, quickly inspecting Kayce’s limbs for broken bones, her skin for scratches. Kayce held her head for a moment, she definitely hit it pretty hard on the ground, before sitting up and saying,

“Mom I think I did it.”

Diana looked skeptical. “You dropped like a rock, Kayce.” Diana said, then realizing the statement sounded harsh, asked, “Why do you think you got it?”

“I don’t know. Everything just kind of stopped and I was able to clear my mind and concentrate for a minute.” She paused, afraid what she was about to say is going to make her sound crazy. “On wings holding me up.” Kayce stood up and brushed off dried grass and dirt. She subconsciously clenched her fists by her sides and looked determinedly ahead at her mother, who looked back at her with eyes full of doubt and pity.

Wings, thought Kayce. I have wings and I can fly.

Her feet left the ground and she saw the shock and delight on her mother’s face, but ignored it, her focus not even broken by the rush of adrenaline and fear.

Up, Kayce thought, and she slowly lifted a few more feet off the ground. Diana flew up to match her level, one knee lifted, her excited smile showing the slightest hint of worry as she studied the intense look on her daughter’s face. Kayce wanted to tell her mother that she knew what she was doing, but was afraid speaking would break the connection to her wings.

Okay, down, Kayce thought, and she started to fall she quickly like before. Slower! She thought, slower, slower… and sure enough, the imaginary wings slowed and she gently touched the ground. Diana touched down next to her.

“Well done, Kayce!’ Her mother was beaming. “I am SO proud of you! It took me months to do what you just did!” Unable to help herself, Diana pulled Kayce into a close, tight hug.

About the story;

Sarah wrote it for the intended audience of teenage girls. She worked at Emory University a few years ago in their outreach program for teens. Teenagers need to see how good relationships work so they can have their own good relationships in life. Reading helps teens figure things out when they don’t get enough guidance from adults, or don’t have good role models at home.

The mother is like Wonder Woman, from another planet. The girl’s dad is Human. The story’s teenage girl is a human, alien hybrid who is discovering she has some super powers.

About the collage.

Sarah told me she didn’t want angel wings on the girl. I agreed, but couldn’t decide how to do the wings. I had it in mind for months, then saw the Latin Ballet and was blown away. They had dresses with yards of pleated fabric attached to sticks which they held in their hands. The fabric was attached to the back of the dresses at the other end. I wished I could examine the dresses more closely. They were so beautiful and graceful as they floated across the stage with their wings. Then I had the idea for the wings, but couldn’t decide how to make them shiny and almost transparent. I considered mylar, but couldn’t find what I wanted. Sarah suggested nail polish and I thought that might work for the wings.

This collage has acrylic on canvas board. acrylic on mineral paper, pastel on different types of pastel paper, oil paint and nail polish

 

Walking The Labyrinth

WALKING THE LABYRINTH 6 x 6

“Say not, ‘I have found the Path of the Soul’. Say rather “I have met the soul upon my Path’”-Kahlil Gibran

Have you ever walked a Labyrinth? Have you thought about it, but perhaps don’t have one near enough to easily visit? If that’s the case, new addition to the Artistcellar stencil collection is for you!

Unlike a maze with twists and turns designed to challenge the walker with the possibility of misdirection, think of a Labyrinth as an empathetic guide. Regardless of design, the winding paths all lead to a single point. The objective of a maze is to reach the center. The objective of a Labyrinth is to reach your center.

Labyrinths embody the saying “It’s all about the Journey”. Not aligned to any specific religious tradition, the beauty of walking a Labyrinth is its ability to slow you down and allow you the opportunity to seek comfort and wholeness for your soul.

We are fortunate to have a wonderful Labyrinth at the Unity Church of Harrisburg. Built in 2007 it is of a medieval or Chartres design. I have walked it and continued my journey in their Peace Garden, always leaving relaxed and renewed. This is the reason why I was delighted to receive the new Artistcellar Labyrinth stencil series…and so happy to see the Chartres design is included. And as with so many things in life, it came at just the right time.

This Summer has been a whirl of activity…some wonderful experiences and others less so. But one thing is certain. I need to slow down, to regroup, and to revive. Having the stencil in my hands was the first step in the right direction.

My Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal has become my “go-to” at the moment. I like the size and quality of the paper. The Chartres stencil was a perfect fit on the page. My stenciling efforts are now part of a growing collection of images ready and easy to use.

I had a general idea of the elements I wanted to include in my final design. Looking through my box of acrylics I chose colours in the purple family: Amethyst and Plum and gold for an accent. I wanted a slightly worn feel, so I began stenciling with a natural sponge. Although the colours complimented each other, and I liked the texture, something didn’t feel “right” about it.

After cleaning the stencil I went back to the box of acrylics to choose shades of green: Aquamarine and Blue Topaz. And suddenly everything fell into place. The texture and colours worked just as I imagined. I added further highlights of sunflower and Viva Inka Gold which I burnished with a soft cloth to a brilliant sheen. To complete my image, I placed it on a background mixing the sense of earth and a sky sprayed with stars.

And there it was…the Labyrinth just as I envisioned it. A sensation of well-being washed over me, just as it does when physically walking the winding path. Still, one aspect of the work puzzled me. I’m normally not a great lover of shades of green and usually don’t feature it in my art. But here it worked. And thinking it over, a thought came to mind: The Heart Chakra. Of course…just working with the Labyrinth stencil guided me to reach my center. And there I placed a Heart Chakra symbol.

I have read of the use of “Finger Labyrinths” for meditation. After creating with the Artistcellar stencil I firmly believe it works. I would like to share this with you. Please feel free to download my art and walk the Labyrinth with me.

And why not try your hand using the new stencil series in your own art? As with all Artistcellar products, the quality of the stencils opens the door to creativity for years to come.

Will you walk the winding Path to find your center? I’d love to hear about your adventures.

MATERIALS USED

PLAID FOLKART METALLIC ACRYLICS: Aquamarine, Blue Topaz, Champaign, Antique Gold, Amethyst, Plum

PLAID ACRYLICS: Sunflower

VIVA INKA GOLD GLOSS PAINT

NATURAL SPONGE

SOFT CLOTH

STRATHMORE Mixed-Media Visual Journal 300 Series- 5.5″ x 8.5″

DIGITAL IMAGES – Purchased & Created

 

Are You A Canvas?

MID CENTURY MODERN DREAM“Fashion is Art and You are the Canvas!” – Velvet Paper

Fashion truly is Art! From Haute Couture to Prêt-à-Porter the designer escorts us through their passionate journey.  Colour, form, and pattern: our shared tools of the trade inspire them to make their concepts tangible. And how heartening it is to be wrapped in someone’s dream!

When my Artistcellar box arrived in the mail I couldn’t wait to experiment with the Marked Series Stencils. With circles, X’s, and an interlocked ladder the graphic feel made me think of Mid-Century Modern art and interior design. And I was in luck: my Artistcellar treasure trove also contained Dylusion Bubble Gum Pink Ink Spray and Dina Wakley Lemon and Lime acrylics. The stencil pattern and my acrylic colours were perfect for taking me back to the time of Bakelite telephones and the Camel cigarette man wafting smoke rings across Times Square from his billboard.

I wanted to start with the background. I went to a new page in my Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal. The ladder stencil and Dina’s Lemon acrylic came first. Slowly, I built up the layers using each stencil in the collection and a variety of acrylics. Then came time to throw caution to the wind! I grabbed my Dylusion Bubble Gum Pink ink and sprayed away. I loved the hot pink colour, mopped up a bit with my sponge and pushed it through the stencil. I really was pleased with the effect and will be adding it to my favored techniques. I completed the background with Punchinella, Artistcellar Halftone Dots Stencils and metallic acrylic.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I love the fact that the Artistcellar stencils hold up to anything I throw at, or push through them. Clean up leaves them in perfect condition ready for my next project.

Now that I had my background ready, and my colours were just as vibrant as they were wet, I knew the focal point needed to be just as bold. I am a great fan of black and white fashion photography of the 1950’s. I chose a photo of a woman, head titled back, with eyes slightly closed. What was she dreaming about… Perhaps a great adventure? And who would accompany her? And most of all, what clothing would she pack! I thought of the Bakelite phone…and the phone book she would peruse. To the left of the work you will see a page which I infused with bee’s wax.

This is what I love about Art. We have countless ways to express what comes from deep within us. With so many tools at our disposal we are only limited by our imaginations. By sharing what is essential to us we give it life, and hopefully nurture the spark in others.

So the next time you put on that favourite piece of clothing, just think…you are the canvas helping to make a designers soul immortal!

MATERIALS USED:

Do You “See”?

DIE GOLDENE MEDINA-WASH DAY“Photography helps people to see.” – Berenice Abbott

Do you “see”? Do you mindfully take time to appreciate the glorious sights that surround you? Do you find similarities in beliefs and dreams reflected where you least expect them?

The incredible photographic work of Berenice Abbott is without a doubt thought-provoking. And while I agree that photography helps you to see, I also think music, literature, painting, printmaking, drawing, and in my case collage, also encourages introspection.

My passion for New York runs deep. While many people find rejuvenation rambling through the countryside, the sound of my heels clicking a staccato rhythm on the sidewalk sets my soul on fire. And if I can’t physically be in New York, Berenice Abbott’s dramatic black and white photos are a passport not only to my hometown, but to another time.

Looking at Abbott’s catalogue housed at New York Public Library, I decided to work with a photo of a Manhattan courtyard on laundry day taken in the 1930’s. The realist in me knows doing laundry in the tenements was a back-breaking job at best. But the romantic in me yearns for the days of seeing clothes strung on a line, the patterns and colours enhanced by the sun and wind.

I knew I needed a background as dramatic as the photo. I chose a handmade scarf completed at a workshop I attended at the Carlisle Arts Learning Center. The silk chiffon was accordion folded, secured with wooden blocks, drizzled with reactive dyes and steamed in the microwave to set the colour. It was the first time I tried this technique and I was extremely pleased with the results.

The warm tones of coral, orange and yellow were the perfect framework for the cool palette I chose when using Artistcellar’s Seafoam stencil. The foamy look of the stencil merged perfectly with my wash day theme. And that’s what I love about the Artistcellar products. The only limit to their use is your imagination. With a swash of watercolour, a splash of acrylics and Artistcellar Halftone Dots, my background was nearly complete.

But something was missing. Looking at the patterns formed by the laundry I wondered what stories they had to tell. Life was challenging, but still there was hope. I wondered about the letters sent home to family and friends…some who would be making the journey soon and others would only experience Die Goldene Medina through their eyes. So I added the text in Chinese, Italian, and French.

The Arts are a mirror by which we see a reflection of ourselves and each other. A photo, a painting, a bit of prose they all help us to truly see that hopes and dreams are passions we all share.

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR SEAFOAM STENCIL
  • ARTISTCELLAR HALFTONE DOTS SERIES STENCILS
  • 100% SILK CHIFFON SCARF
  • REACTIVE DYES: CORAL, YELLOW, ORANGE
  • WOOD BLOCKS
  • STRING
  • ROYAL LANGNICKEL WATERCOLOURS – FLAT & PEARLESCENT
  • REEVES METALLIC ACRYLIC: GOLD, BRONZE
  • PLAID FOLK ART METALLIC ACRYLICS:ROYAL GOLD, AQUAMARINE, AMETHYST,
    PLUM, ROSE, CHAMPAGNE
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • FLAT PAINTBRUSH
  • RUBBER CEMENT & ERASER
  • DIGITAL IMAGES

Art In A Magnificent Setting…

Mystery of V Oakley

The Mystery of Violet Oakley – Collage

I have always loved visiting the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building in Harrisburg. It has it all: sweeping exterior staircases, incredible marble sculptures, murals beyond compare, and Commonwealth, resting atop the dome, a gilded fourteen foot six-inch statue I had the pleasure of seeing at ground level after restoration.

This is why I am so excited, and honoured, to be included in the Fifth Annual Daily Painters of Pennsylvania Group Exhibition taking place in the East Wing Rotunda for the month of July 2014.

The Daily Painters is Blog devoted to artists living in Pennsylvania. The diversity and standard of work is magnificent. I love visiting the Blog because it takes me back to my Art School days where we were able to view work in progress, and careers in transition, in an encouraging environment.

For the exhibition we each submitted three works. I chose The Mystery of Violet Oakley as one of my pieces. The Pre-Raphaelite influenced work of Violet Oakley is no stranger to us living in the Harrisburg area.  Forty-three murals grace the walls of the Capitol. Violet was the first woman artist to receive a commission of such magnitude in the United States. Her extraordinary talent and life inspired my collage.

As one of the Red Rose Girls, Violet shared her life with Jessie Willcox Smith and Elizabeth Shippen Green. Living together encouraged a climate of extreme creativity and speculation on the true nature of the arrangement, a mystery that would never be fully solved.

The substrate for my collage is canvas. In addition to the photo of Violet, I used handmade and art paper, ribbon, joss paper, a letter written by Violet, and a pressed rose petal.

Although we Daily Painters don’t physically live together, we do share a home base on the Blog. And like the Red Rose Girls, it is an enlightening and nurturing place to be.

Mixed Media Artists-We Celebrate Earth Day Every Day!

Chasing Rainbows

Chasing Rainbows

Happy Earth Day! Over a billion people will share in celebration today, the forty-forth anniversary of the annual day of awareness and action. And yes, this unabashed Tree-Hugger will be celebrating!

There is no question that we all have a role to play in taking care of the Earth. If we even make a small change, each one of us together can bring great transformations.

“Chasing Rainbows” is an Artist Trading Card. The substrate for the card is illustration board. Layered on the card is a combination of different coloured paint samples, handmade paper, joss paper, and a wrapper from a Hershey’s Kiss. I cut the words for the quote from an old dictionary. I finished the card by adding a decorative leaf.

But aren’t we collage and mixed-media artists living the spirit of Earth Day every time we produce our work? Aren’t we staying true to our Muse when we follow the path of nature and inspiration?

Who could not be inspired by all the magical wonders the Earth has to offer? Just think of what life would be like without the vastness of space, the infinite variety of colour presented to us with each sunrise and sunset, the boundless texture and form of soil, the nurturing sensation of rain…giving way to rainbows, when we are fortunate enough to see them.

We mixed media artists do chase our own rainbows in our own way….our mantra “reuse and recycle”. And haven’t the resulting finished art been incredible!

May you have a wonderful, inspiring Earth Day…each and every day!

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