Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Mad Experiments of Dr. Gessostein

Ah, the joys of gesso. I must confess that this ground/medium brings out the mad scientist in me. There is always some crazy experiment that I want to try.  Usually, the experiment comes in the form of what can I paint with gesso and turn into a surface for art

I also use it on the covers of Mead sketchbooks to turn them into journals. I discovered through experience that these inexpensive sketchbooks have surprisingly substantial paper that can take layers of painting and gluing without buckling. But how to personalize the covers? That's where low-viscosity gesso comes in. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I ordered it. Perhaps that I'd only have to add one coat to get good coverage? 

It's like working with cream cheese. At first I was a bit taken aback, but then I tried stamping into it while it was wet. Fabulous!

It also makes quite a resist. Here is the before stenciled with gesso

and after of one of my experiments. The "after" has a wash of copper and garnet paint.

Here is a resist experiment from last year. There are several layers of stamps painted with gesso, followed by washes and dry brush stippling, followed by gesso that has been colored with paint.

And here is what happens when I go quite mad with color. Can you spot the layer of gesso resist, followed by colored gesso and more paint? 

In the end, my most fiendish experiment wasn't with gesso at all. I took a simple resist page -- just a wash in shades of purple and mauve -- and used it for backdrop for the bird woman at the top of the page.

This particular bird lady is one in a series, but that's a fiendish experiment to be revealed another day. To see more inspiring ways to use gesso, visit Michelle Ward's GPP Street Team Crusade No. 25. And tell them Dr. Gessostein sent you. 

The Nutcracker Sweet

When was the last time you treated yourself to the Nutcracker? I won't say just how long it has been since I saw it live, but people were still dressing up for an afternoon at the ballet. I suspect I feel about dance the way opera buffs feel about their medium -- that there is nothing else that is quite so transcending and beautiful. Still, I don't go often enough.

I wish I could go the Pacific Northwest Ballet's version of The Nutcracker. Not only does it include glorious sets by my idol, Maurice Sendak, but one of the young dancers is my friend Clara. (Not the heroine Clara, although I am sure our Clara is very much a heroine.) Clara opened the day after Thanksgiving and is following in the very able toe shoes of her big sister, Alexandra, who danced with the company in The Nutcracker for several seasons. To see the story synopsis and get a peek at the luscious production values, go HERE

Congratulations and break a leg, Clara! I hope this is the beginning of a wonderful run.

(Oops! A caveat -- the $25 at the bottom of the art is there for artistic effect. I have no idea what the actual tickets cost.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters, the beans an squash, which give us life.
We return thanks to the bushes and trees, which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind, which, moving the air, has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars, which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather He-no, that he has protected his grandchildren from [evildoers] and reptiles, and has given to us his rain.
We return thanks to the sun, that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of his children.

Iroquois prayer, circa 1800s

I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day surrounded by those you love. And please know that on this day I am most thankful for you and your kind comments on this blog. Have a wonderful day and don't forget, tomorrow is the National Day of Listening. Go HERE to learn more and record a precious conversation with someone you love.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Day of Sharing Words


Ideas skitter away from me
a ghost squirrel
too busy gathering 
juicy words
of my ripest summer
to store against the harsher days,
growing fat
and sleek
on a gluttony of literature
and the imperfection of joy,
to draw close
and nibble from my hand.
And yet, 
there may be fruit enough
to weather the winter's chill. 

To immerse yourself in a sea of gorgeous words, visit LK Ludwig here today for a link to participants. A million thanks to her for this communal feast.

Poem c. 2008 by JeriAnn.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Seduction by Chocolate

Those dark chocolate nights
warmed by the light 
of molten ebony silk sliding across my tongue
and filling me 
with the perfume
of absent joys.

Seduction by chocolate.
Ah, bliss.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shhh. . .

Trees are the earth's endless effort
to speak to the listening heaven

-- Rabindranath Tagore

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Autumn

Halfway through a century
I stopped to look around
and saw my Autumn was glorious.

I am no longer in late summer
no matter how much 
I want to pretend that the frost has not come.

I want so much to cling
to the high green and verdant things
but my world is turning into gold.

And I am spinning
spinning into a deeper stillness
getting closer to hearing your voice.

The tiny whisper
rustling amid the leaves
in the blaze of pumpkin and cranberry and apple.

I can almost hear it
softer than milkdown.
It is my autumn. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

Still Walking on Clouds

President-elect Obama.

I've gone from getting verklempt at hearing it to merely giggling like a schoolgirl. 

I have the most unusual impulse to write a fan letter to Michelle Obama. I want to nominate her as First Girlfriend. I really feel like she's one of us. I was a newspaper editor, unfazed by celebrity. What has happened to me?

And I nearly swooned at Friday's press conference. He understood all the questions. He answered all the questions. He thought about his answers. He cared about the press corps. I've never enjoyed a press conference so much.

Of course, I worried about how tired he looked and how much gray was in his hair. Afterward, C-SPAN showed a roast of then U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) given by CURE, an advocacy group for curing epilepsy. It took place in 2005 and featured such illuminaries as Hillary Clinton, William Saffire, Chris Dodd and a junior senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. It was so much fun listening to Obama and Emanuel take shots at one another. My favorite was Obama's comment that Emanuel would never get anywhere with that funny name. It was easy to see that the two men have an easy rapport.

Of course, he seems to have an easy rapport with another friend.

It's good to live in America.