An Accident of Stars

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Winter Moon 3' x 5'

Here in Alaska, we are fighting the darkness with high beams, vitamin D and little Christmas lights.

I have been painting seasonal panels to decorate the side of our enormous shop. Last summer there were six huge flowers and in the autumn, fruits and vegetables. The snow started falling and my husband rolled them up (very large Fruit Roll-Ups). I had an idea for winter panels, but couldn’t seem to figure it out until last week. I wanted it back-lit, but didn’t know how to make it really glow. I stapled little white Christmas lights inside the perimeter and it looked OK, but it was too dim so I ran them across the back. I stepped back and actually gasped. What a fun accident! Where I thought there would be just more glow were stars and glittering snow. It was magical. There will be more panels, but I wanted to share this with you.

To make one of your own, take a wooden frame and cover it with muslin or any white fabric, using staples to stretch it tight. Use a design with simple shapes. You can use a stencil or decals if you like.  The moon is unpainted fabric, the sky is a thin coat of pale grey paint, and the trees are thick black. You could use any paint, even a white latex house paint if you like and the unpainted fabric will glow. Staple little Christmas lights on the back, particularly around the perimeter. Plug it in and enjoy your creation!

I’m happy to have you share this idea on Pinterest, Facebook and other sites, but please site my name and this blog if you do. Thanks!

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Silk Flags of Surrender

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Iris Flag (dye on silk, 15 x 26)

Colorful dyes flow onto the beautiful silk and I set them with an iron as music plays in the background. Then the frustration begins. I carefully sew the hem at the top and bottom of the flag with my sewing machine, then tear it out because thread snarls up underneath and the stitches have jumped randomly about. And yes, I have tried all the tension adjustments (on the machine and in my mind) and I have put a piece of paper under the fabric to give it stability. Since sewing is one of my least favorite things to do, this has brought an end to making these flags and a beginning of a new use for the machine as a boat anchor. If you happen to have a suggestion for a friendly sewing machine, I might reconsider.  For now, this is the end and I feel a huge sense of relief. Would you like to see the other three flags?

Playing with Paper, Paint, and Paste (Part 2)

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Today we will start gluing paper. I hope the instructions are clear and that I’m not mumbling, babbling, or not giving enough information. The nice thing about collage is that you can do whatever you like, although it might not work without glue…

At this point, I can only figure out how to add the video with YouTube. Thank you for your suggestions. I’m always happy to hear your voice in the comments.

Tahneta Lake Tundra Collage

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Tahneta Lake Tundra 49"h x 26"w

Most of the leaves have fallen to the ground where I live, yet the Alaskan tundra remains a blanket of colorful texture. Tomorrow it could all be under snow for the winter.

Usually I paint in watercolor, but this image just begged for the vocabulary of textured paper. I use regular white tissue paper, lovely Japanese papers, and an assortment of other papers to get a variety of texture. I lay them on plastic, then splatter them with fluid acrylic paint. Can you imagine how much fun that is? If I splatter with bluegrass music playing, it can get pretty wild. My rug in the studio will never be the same. It’s too late for a drop cloth. After the splattered paper dries, I tear it into pieces and glue them to a canvas.

When I paint with other mediums I like my studio orderly, but when I’m creating a collage my studio looks like a tornado blew through. Today, pieces of paper escaped into the living room and out onto the deck.

I took the photo of this collage outside in the sunshine so you could see the texture. A black fly stopped by and landed on the mountain and I just couldn’t deny him a moment of fame.

Here is a closeup showing the different papers.