Tag Archives: mixed media

Holly Receptors In The Brain Of Your Plein Air Artist / mixed media

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I could have titled this, “Deciduous Holly” but then the art viewer would dismiss it as just another drawing of a twisted bush. Allow me to interpret it for you.

A few years ago my daughter lived in Atlanta GA. and when I visited her one time we saw a show called “Bodies” at the Atlantic Center. These Chinese mad scientists had taken some John Doe bodies in China and dissected them in unique ways. They injected bright dye into the nervous system then eliminated all the rest of the body’s tissues so all that was left was the neon nervous system in 3D body shaped plexiglass.  They did the same thing to the blood veins. Imagine a clear body where the whole nervous system is visible. I found it a little disturbing. One display had an arm sliced across sections and spread out so you could see the bones, muscles and other guts of the arm going down the extended length of it. I thought if I had a few of those arm cross sections I could use them as coasters since they were in plexiglass and colored so nicely with no smell of death.

Coincidentally, they were running ads on TV for a pill that supposedly stopped the “nicotine receptors” in a smoker’s brain from working. If you wanted to quit smoking, you could take the pill and quit the habit / addiction of smoking. I wondered what the nicotine receptors looked like. I doubt there are really nicotine receptors in the brain at all. I guess if an artist challenged a mad scientist to show the nicotine receptors the scientist would slap a brain out of a jar of formaldehyde onto a plate and make some cuts into the gray matter and say, “There are your nicotine receptors”. Then later, I heard of opium receptors or some other bad kind of receptors in your brain. It seems like there are receptors for all kinds of things in your brain. Everyone started jumping on the brain receptor band wagon. Then there must be receptors for other things that give the brain pleasure, like eating hard shell crabs, or looking at a pretty bush in the winter.

These days, a lot of times I draw trees with bare twisted branches and it reminds me of the neural network of the brain. And when I stood in front of this bush to draw it, those holly receptors went off in my brain giving me a feeling of pleasure. The red dots on my sketch are the holly receptors. The art viewer might see the red dots as merely berries and be bored with the sketch, because that person wants to see not only a tree, but the suffering of the artist depicted in the sketch, or some story illustrated through the art. They would never know this is an illustration of the holly receptors in my brain if I didn’t tell them. This is where you, my WordPress friends, have an advantage over the other art viewers out there. Because now you know some of the things that went through my mind when I worked on this drawing, but if I frame it or use this sketch to do a painting, others won’t see the receptors.

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Torch Lilies / mixed media

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Look what’s blooming like crazy in Jan! It’s so bright I used my florescent oil paint sticks. They have a big clump of these Torch Lilies at Norfolk Botanical Garden. A gardener told me they started to show buds a month ago then last week they really opened up!

It’s so nice to stand there sketching and take in the colors on a gray day like today, and tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, so I’m glad I got this sketch today. I did the watercolor background when I got home.

portraits of ladies / blind drawing exercise / mixed media

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A lot of contemporary artists do this blind drawing exercise so I wanted to give it a try.  I did double blind because I picked my colors blindfolded too.

Before I blindfolded myself I arranged my work table with a pile of my watercolors and a jar of water next to them, piles of oil pastels in groups of dark medium and light and a jar of terpenoid next to them, a pile of paint brushes and my paper. For my first experiment I put some watercolor on the palette which I could feel but then I couldn’t tell if my brush was going into the paint because I was blindfolded and I didn’t cheat by looking.  I stuck my finger into the paint. So, for my next experiment I picked up my random color of paint and opened the tube and dabbed it directly onto the paper in several places then dipped my brush into the water, which I could feel for.

It was fun! The first few blind paintings didn’t work at all and I wanted to keep trying. I did six and I’ll show you the two best two.

The thing I like about the one above, is the eye seems to have floated off her face to the right. IMG_2163

Her dad was a glass maker.

The funny thing about this one is, I did draw eyes nose and mouth, but they got lost somewhere and her head looks transparent.

So this is my latest attempt to be contemporary, though technically, all artists alive and working today are contemporary. But art style labels don’t always apply.

Did this exercise improve my drawing? Even though I goofed around with it most of the day, I’d say, no. It was fun, but it won’t help my drawing improve. So, what is the real point of this exercise? To make modern art easier for someone who draws and paints in an old style? If either of these looks like real contemporary art, then the exercise did that for me.

Also, sometimes if you’re working on a project and getting nowhere, you can play around one day with this blind drawing exercise and take a break from the thing that’s not going well. Then go back to the other project mentally refreshed.

The Iverskaya / Mother of God

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19th century, oil on panel, silver-gilt, enamel,silk

It’s at the VMFA in the Faberge gallery.

I’m not Catholic, but this is inspiring me to do an icon. Mine won’t be religious, but an American icon. I’m planning it for the spring art show at the Poe Museum, so it needs to be Edgar Allen Poe in the icon. Yes, I need to start planning now because I’m kind of slow. hahahahah This will be something I can work on when the weather gets too cold to paint outside in a month or so.

Just yesterday, I was thinking of doing a mixed media  piece to enter in their annual call to artists for the show “Poe’s Enchanted Garden.” I was trying to decide on how to make cut out layers. I had in mind a Dada piece I love by Arp with cut outs, “Mountains Table Anchors Navel.”  I couldn’t decide, should the image of Poe be on top of the layers or underneath to be seen through the cut outs. This real icon tells me, the pic of Poe should be inside the cut out and surrounded by an ornate border with gold and sparkly jewels. Poe won’t be getting a halo though. He might look good in an Art Deco type floral design, all dripping with sad flowers in gold and jewels. Maybe I can work a raven or black cat into the design.

It will be a challenge to do a nice portrait of Poe  for my icon.