Borrowing and Burrowing

May 30, 2008 at 10:13 am | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Amethyst Rat

Did you ever read the children’s story series about The Borrowers, the tiny people that lived under the floorboards and freely took what they could from “human beans”? In grade school I eagerly read Mary Norton’s fantastic tales.

We‘ve all had small household items mysteriously disappear. It’s a lovely imaginative plunge to consider a world of minuscule people carrying off safety pins, socks, buttons, and usefully recycling them on their scale, glove fingers into pantaloons for instance. Norton, a British author died last week and as far as I know, didn’t reveal her muse for “the borrowing” story.

I’m speculating that her inspiration could easily have been the antics of pack rats. One has been scurrying through the garage and pump-house this past year. Can’t leave anything out overnight. Every portable item is fair game. Nails, bolts, pencils, are carted off and later found piled up behind a toolbox, in a flowerpot, or buried in a nest. The foot ruler must have been a challenge as it only made it to the floor, but the bit of Velcro, store receipt, and plumber’s tape roll carried to the hoard just fine.

That’s how Amethyst Rat scampered into the mask story.

Hey! Hey! It’s about Thumb! Mail Art!

May 28, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Posted in Art Exhibitions, Mail Art | 1 Comment
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Thumb! Update: Exhibition Announcement!

Thank you for all of the great contributions so far to the Thumb Mail Art project. There is about a month left to the June 30th deadline.

A three-day exhibit is planned for July 25, 26, & 27, 2008 at the Odd-Fellows Hall in Kernville, California, USA. Kernville has a rich history as a mining town during the California Goldrush and was also frequently used as the site for old silent western movies– think Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, and others. This will be the first international mail art show held in Kernville. At the exhibit there will be a world map indicating the country and city of the artists.This is the first time an international mail art show will be held in Kernville.  A reception is planned for Friday evening, the 25th (time to be announced).


Theme: This call invites your creative visual responses to the theme of the “Thumb,” that thick first digit of the human hand. Whether it’s thumbs up, all thumbs, or pull your thumb outta your, this art will explore the various connotations of the thumb, with irony, with humor, or in all seriousness.

Open Media: collage, photography, painting, drawing, printing, etc.

Format & Size: postcards from 4”x6” (or 10 x 15 cm), up to A5 size about 5 ¾” x 8 1/4” (or 14.8 x 21 cm) maximum.

Documentation: All received works will be exhibited and the artists listed on  Please include your name, mailing address, and email address for acknowledgment and correspondence purposes –we will send a list of participants, and copies of any press coverage of the exhibition.

All works must be sent via normal postal route.

No fee, no returns: The postcards will become part of the collection of Thumbing Through.

Remember: WE LOVE MAIL ART! We love the concept, the images, the sense of community and feedback it inspires. We look forward to your participation in this project.

Deadline to be received: June 30, 2008

Mail to:  Thumb!,  c/o  J. Desmond, PO Box 2287,  Lake Isabella, CA 93240   U.S.A.

Following Where Water Flows

May 23, 2008 at 9:20 am | Posted in Art Studio, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Hydros Goat

Can weather be bi-polar? Today the thermometer has flipped over to 50 and it’s drizzling rain.

It’s a good time to introduce the goat mask image.  Hydros is the Greek word for water. You may have noticed that many of the mask images have Greek names. The goat represents the aspects of water in the story: blue watered creeks winding through the woods, deep dark purple pools, and bubbling water running over rocks.

Shadowed By The Water

May 20, 2008 at 10:15 am | Posted in Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Stopping on the hilltop walk, the dog and I peered down at the lake yesterday. The early morning calm left the lake surface flat and dark in areas. Yet rows of ridges combed the water. Twenty or so parallel bands, then one gradually curved off leading into more parallel rows. In every direction, on and on, the lake was alive with currents creating patterns.

I thought of how it would look in a painting, zooming in only on the patterned rows and dark bands, so abstract, yet so representational of what is.

But instead of going into the studio I climbed on the roof to get the Mastercool going against the sudden 100% heat of the last few days. I’d promised the elderly cats that the house would not steam their fur another day. Hauling the hose up I washed the swirling dirt from the metal panels. I scooped out the brown water that accumulated in the pan and watched it run down the shingles.

At the hardware store I buy a new pump filter. Ah, the net one that reminds me of the lake. Plus some new panel screws. Look how the threads circle the shaft wave-like.

Back again, the float needs adjusting as the water dripped rhythmically down the eaves, onto the deck, and roiled away into the dirt. The overflow turned the roof’s steep angle into a slip and slide. The bottom of my walking shoes are worn smooth, no more contoured lines there. On go the Chacos, river sandals, lake sandals, sandals that let me jump over wet rocks and traverse slick shingles.

Some days are like this, chores need doing, animals and plants need tending, and there is little or no studio time.

Yeah, I considered calling a plumber. An hour and they’re out of there. But I get arrogant about paying for something I can do myself. And they don’t bring up the hose to wash the grime away, pull the rippled pads, or do all the other things that give me peace of mind for the season. Nor would they mention that an owl roosted in the pine trees above and left interesting mice-bone pellets scattered on the roof.

Still the lake image possessed me all day. Wave patterns followed me everywhere. Creative ideas are like that, itching to be realized. We are haunted by the images until we actualize them-send them into the world.

Opposites Attract

May 16, 2008 at 9:04 am | Posted in Art Studio, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Mandarin Fox

For several months this past winter two gray foxes visited in the evening. One has lived alone around here for years, and at some point completely lost his tail. He’s a strange sight, like discovering a new animal species. The new fox is smaller and sports a long, lush tail. I’m hoping it’s a vixen.

As the design work on the collages continued, a thin story thread dangled in front of me. The collages became more symmetrical in design and more symbolic. Masks are symbolic. Look at the symbol and there is often another level of masking underneath. The collage animals all represent certain character traits but there’s also a color-wheel relationship between the bull & the fox.


May 15, 2008 at 9:34 am | Posted in Art Studio, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Malachite Bull

Malachite Bull

The bull breaks the earth and kicks up the hidden stones. He charges around in a circle between the red and green.

Announcement for Exhibition in Brazil

May 6, 2008 at 10:27 am | Posted in Art Exhibitions | Leave a comment
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An art group I’m involved with is the International MiniArt Exchange. Artists
from many countries send one small format artwork (8″ x 8″) for a group show.
This year’s exhibition includes work from 154 artists and will run May 8th through
June 29th, 2008 at the Xico Stockinger Gallery in the House of Culture Mario
Quintana, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Where Has All The Cerulean Gone?

May 5, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Cyanea Monkey

Someone is monkeying with the color of the sky. The sky here used to be intense blue at times, bright cerulean, straight out of the paint tube blue. That’s rare these days. Today it is a subdued light blue, grayish blue in the South East, evidence of the wildfires burning in Southern California. Looking toward the West there’s a definite yellow tinge to the blue where the air comes up from the populated central valley. There’s some green in it where it sits on the mountains.

We see color because of the light and its various qualities, reflections, refractions, and affected by weather conditions, seasons, etc. We know that the appearance of color changes throughout the day as the light changes, a concept fully explored in the work of the French Impressionist painters, particularly by Claude Monet. At the same time colors appear differently depending on where you are in the world.

I’ve been wondering if that will also apply to various periods in history. Would the Impressionists find that the colors in the south of France look the same today as they did in the late 19th century? Amid all of the discussion, through hard facts and figures, of the human impact on the world, of global warming, and climate change, what I’ve noticed here, is that the blues in the sky are changing.


while painting in Bordighera, Italy

I haven’t yet managed to capture the colour of this landscape; there are moments when I’m appalled at the colours I’m having to use, I’m afraid what I’m doing is just dreadful and yet I really am understating it; the light is simply terrifying. -Claude Monet

More On Green

May 1, 2008 at 11:38 am | Posted in Art Studio, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Phyllidos Owl

In the black space of night the deep rhythmic calls of owl bounce round. Unseen, only those hoots, and perhaps the swoosh of quick wings mark its presence. Even in the day it stays hidden, merging into the tree.

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