Hamburger Transformed

Sorry,  I’m probably “over-blogging” from Boston, but rarely do I have such a stretch of time to experiment with art and write about the weirdness of the process. For example, my Taos teacher Gwen Fox always says, “Start with a thumbnail from an existing picture.” So I found this hamburger in a magazine (fig. 1) – it looked interesting through the paper window (or maybe I was hungry). I turned it sideways and sketched in the shapes which started morphing into abstract figures. (fig.2). I tried to make the two figures balance and relate, but it became obvious that the figure on the left was dominant, so . . .whack! Off went the second figure to be used elsewhere. (fig. 3) I put a very few finishing tweaks on the left figure and, when matted, it is intriguing and colorful. (fig. 4). I think I will name it “McDonald.” Or maybe “Hunger and Evolution.” Isn’t art fun??

Note to self – quit while you’re ahead

Having all of these fantastic new art materials to try is great, but I keep making the same old mistake  – trying to fix a painting or collage by adding more stuff. Arg. It’s really tempting when there are a zillion colors to choose from, especially when you’re working small like I am on a dining table in my temporary Boston “studio.” . Here’s an example of a really awful painting that I tried to save by piling on more layers of color, scratching into the layers, adding gold leaf, spraying with walnut ink – all the usual tricks. I even cut a hole in it! Ewww. What a mess.

abstract4Here’s the next one – it might not be finished, but it isn’t overworked.  I simplified the composition and the palette, and then stopped. Sometimes less is more. (Except maybe for gold leaf, walnut ink, chocolate sorbet and Diet Dr. Pepper. :))


Beacon Street


art copy

Hooray for my daughter-in-law – she thoughtfully stocked my temporary Boston digs with art supplies.    I have a new set of Caran D’Ache water soluble wax crayons and also a set of Derwent watercolor pencils. I had never used any of these before so I was curious to try them – wonderful stuff! It’s very interesting being in an unfamiliar space with unfamiliar materials, but it’s a good exercise. How a wax crayon can be water soluble beats me, but the colors blend beautifully and are vibrant and intense. I experimented on a couple of small pieces on watercolor paper, kimono shaped with some metallic stamping. The crayons can be used to make lines or textures, and then all or parts can be blended together. Here’s the first sample:

kimono copy Of course, I had help from my grand-cat who is obviously an art connoisseur – he sits on the table and watches me. He tends to fall asleep a lot,though – hope it’s not a commentary on the artwork.


Tomorrow the cold, rainy weather is supposed to be clearing up here so it may be time for a walk in the park! The cats stay inside, though – Boston is definitely a dog town!


OK, so maybe that’s a little hokey, but I did want to let you know about three cool June workshops before I leave for Boston. Here’s the Amazing, Stupendous lineup:

shellsWednesday, June 12, 6-8 p.m. at the Studio: Shards Pins  – This one happened kind of by request, and there are three spots left, so if you want to make some really pretty wearable art ornaments with earthenware faces, come join us that Wednesday evening – here’s the link to the description (tuition same as usual, $55 and all materials included)  and here’s where to sign up.

trioSaturday, June 15th, 11 a.m.-2 the Studio: Shard Faces and Cabochon Beading: Master Class with Eileen Achorn (Beginners Welcome, Too!) This will be a rare and wonderful opportunity to work with Guest Artisan Eileen, whose beadwork is astounding. She’s a wonderful teacher, as well – heck, she’s a prof at UTSA. There are five spaces left at this point. Tuition $65, basic materials such as backings and face shards included (except for beads-BYOBeads :)) Optional: Eileen will be at Ann Pearce’s next door to the Studio to help you select beads with Ann before the class from 10-11 a.m. Here’s a link to the description and to the signup.

ladsmSunday, June 30th, 3-5 p.m. at the Studio: Digital Transfer and Painting Workshop
I’m really excited about this technique and have used it for all of the work I’m taking to the Beacon Hill Art Walk. We’ll use TAP paper to transfer the images, then incorporate them into a mixed-media work with paint and other media. Five spots left for this workshop (which will go fast, so even though it’s over a month away, you might want to sign up now). I will probably repeat this workshop in July, just FYI, if it goes as well as I think it will. Here’s the link to the description and here’s the link to sign up.

That’s all for now from Workshop-O-Rama Central. I’m off to practice my Boston accent so the natives will understand me – lets see . . .“I pahked my cahr in Hahhvad Yaahhrd . . “ OOh, wicked good. 🙂

Pins R FUN

Dunno why I don’t make more of these cool little magnetic collage pins – they are really fun to put together, they come together quickly, make unique gifts,and you get to try different embellishment techniques. For example, on these I used a non-fire ceramic finish from Duncan glazes called Red Granite that I found at my earthenware supplier, Clay World. You can brush it on heavy watercolor paper and it looks all granite-y. Nice!

pinone pintwo

Anybody interested in a  pin-making workshop when I get back from Boston? We could do it some weekday evening at the Studio. Email me if you’re up for it. Speaking of Boston, the link is up for the Beacon Hill Art Walk’s participating artists, including me – betcha I’m the only one from Texas.  I sorta fudged and said I had a “summer home” there so I could get in. Gulp. But I guess it counts if I visit the kids in Boston in the summer. OK, go forth, Y’all, and be creative.


So I was thinking about new workshops and such, and I thought it would be fun to share some quick and easy techniques that you can do with just three “ingredients” (there are a bunch of cookbooks like that*). The first of these is a Reanissance-esque little collage on watercolor paper that can you can use as a card or a cover on a box or – whatever you can think of. Here are the three ingredients (yep, they include my favorites):

  • Walnut Ink (made by Tsukineko, available at Michael’s and Jo-Ann’s or online)
  • Fake gold leaf (ditto)
  • A black and white page from an old art catalog or art book from Half-Price Books or wherever you can find pages to recycle

Here are the steps:

Idea – if you have an art “ingredient” that you bought and don’t know what to do with, tell me what it is and I’ll see if I can figure a three-ingredient project to use it with. Hey, and don’t forget about the Sacred Ground show today!

*PS If you want my favorite three-ingredient food-type recipe, click here 🙂

Art Show on Sunday – you’re invited

I’m hanging on Sacred Ground – well, actually, I’m hanging my *work* this afternoon for Sunday’s Sacred Ground art opening at the Cathedral House Gallery along with a really special group of artist friends. Please come! One of my pieces in particular has surprised me. It’s the encaustic painting I did at Michelle’s workshop. I’ve been experimenting, and think it’s finished, but I’m very new at encaustic (painting with wax), so who knows. Anyway, it’s going in the show, it’s the first and one-and-only encaustic I’ve shown, and its title is Wax and Wings:

Hope to see you Sunday – it’s a beautiful place and there will be a wonderful meditation walk followed by a wine and cheese reception – truly Sacred Ground.

ALSO- the info and registration for the Transfer Workshop is up. I had a lot of interest in this. It’s a ways away (June 30) but sign up now if you want to come. Here’s a preview of what we’ll be doing – it’s super fun and fail-proof:


FINALLY – (honest) – The Summer Newsletter is posted on the website. I think most of you are on that list, but if you want more info on Pablo Solomon, Eileen’s workshop, upcoming openings and such, click here.

Happy Friday dance – bye for now!!




Guest Blogger: Carla Pineda, Viva Bookstore

Let me introduce my dear friend, Carla Pineda, writer, retreat leader and certified spiritual director – and, lucky for me, assistant manager at Viva Bookstore, one of my favorite places to visit. We were talking the other day about the upcoming Sacred Ground exhibit, and I asked her to tell us about some of the books she’s bringing on Sunday to celebrate the art exhibit, the new Cathedral Park Meditation Walk, and the empowering partnership between the visual arts and the literary arts. (Speaking of partnerships, Carla and I have some great ideas for exciting events at the Studio – stay tuned.) Here’s Carla! . . . . . . . . . . .


I am so excited abcarlaeditout the Sacred Ground Art Show at Bishop Jones Center this Sunday.

Scouting the shelves here at Viva Bookstore for books to bring to the show has been so much fun.  I’ve found ones that speak of landscape, creation, beauty, prayer ,and the elements. The words water, wind, earth, and fire, pilgrimage and thoughtful gardening grace the covers of books I’m bringing.  One of my favorite books this year is entitled, “Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds.” birds  It’s about more than birds.  I think birds are poets we often miss listening to and I wonder how many different bird voices fill the skies around the sacred ground of Jones Center.   “Nature as Spiritual Practice” is a book I haven’t read but just the idea of “practicing” nature makes me want to give it a try.  I think I’ll do a little practicing on Sunday.  Another title, “The birds2Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality” is one of my favorite books.  Yes, I know Jones Center isn’t desert or mountain but I wonder if, in the past, before the city grew up around it, and before it became what it is today, if those who settled here didn’t feel it as fierce.  So, on Sunday I’m going to listen, walk, explore and experience this special place, its history and the gifts of talented artists.  Hope to see you there!  And, course, I’ll have books!

Working with the spirits . . .

At our last aromatherapy workshop, my scientist friend Bill Kurtin said, “The longer I research essential oils, the more open I become to the possibilities.” I feel the same way about the Spirit Dolls – yesterday’s workshop was almost magical, both in process and result. I swear, these little figures take on a life of their own. I’ll let the video show you the results – thanks to all of the participants. What synergy you guys created!

If you’d like to try your own Spirit Doll, here’s a free instruction book from moi. And here are couple of things I’ve learned over the course of facilitating four of these workshops:

  • There are guidelines for starting the structure (see my directions in the booklet), but after that, open up to possibilities – you’ll see what I mean when you make your own – there is not One Right Answer just as there is not one right intention for creating them.
  • Stretchy gauze bandages make wonderful wrappings for the bodies – quilt batting cut in strips makes good padding.
  • Tear some of your fabric into long thin strips – it makes wrapping the bodies easier and give a nice soft aged and tattered look.
  • We use my EarthShards for the faces, but you can use anything – air-dry clay rolled into a flattened ball works well – you can draw or mold a face. You could probably adhere your own photo, but that would have a different purpose.
  • Don’t search too hard for the right fabric or trim – use what you have and recycle. It will turn our better (and more meaningful) if you don’t over plan or over-decorate.
  • Don’t be “finished” – add new things every so often – a found feather, a bead from a broken bracelet – let it evolve.

Check out the video – we all started exactly the same way with the same possibilities, and look how these Spirit Dolls defined themselves!

My mother’s day present

Happy Mother’s Day, all . . .Rick, my son, always writes a Mother’s Day post on his blog, Myth and Mystery. Today, he revisited one of my favorites from 2007 – so much has changed, but this will always stay with me – thanks, Rick – I am a lucky mom!!

My own mom, also in San Antonio, doesn’t really believe in Mother’s Day, since it’s a Hallmark/FTD conspiracy to sell greeting cards and flowers. Nevertheless, I think it’s good to have day like this to reflect on how amazingly blessed I am to have a great mother. For years, I have been known around San Antonio as “Lyn’s son,” because everyone — I mean everyone — knows and loves my mom. She’s an accomplished artist, a musician, a writer, and an extremely gifted teacher. The house I grew up in was a work of art itself, and a natural gathering place for actors, artists, and writers. Growing up, it didn’t take me long to realize just how unique my mom was. Not everyone had a Renaissance woman for a mother. She always allowed me space to discover my own interests. She never pushed or even suggested, but in a fertile environment like our home, how could I not have explored writing, music, art? I was not an over-scheduled kid. I remember frequently complaining to my mom that I was bored. She would brainstorm ideas with me, but in the end, it was up to me to entertain myself. I’m convinced this turned me into a writer. I had to look inward for my own stories and my own fantasy worlds. I wonder if kids today have time to do this, between soccer practice and recitals and the rest of their ultra-scheduled lives. I hope they do. My mom was my first reader, my first editor, my first fan. She continues to be one of my “front line” critics every time I print out a new manuscript, even if her comments are usually, “I love this, and I love this, and I REALLY love this.” Hey, she’s my mom. She’s entitled! So thanks, Mom. It’s nice to be called a bestselling author or winner of such-and-such award, but it’s a real honor — a very great privilege — to be Lyn’s son.