Day’s End

Day’s End:  a companion piece to the Sunrise monoprint collage.

Day’s End
16×20-inch canvas (40×50 cm)

here is Sunrise once more:

Sunrise:  monoprints with acrylic paint

16×20-inch canvas (40×50 cm)


gel plate monoprints

Here’s a technique to make colorful and textured monoprinted papers.

“Monoprint” indicates that we get a unique print off the printing plate, never the same print twice like printing a newspaper where we get a kajillion prints per run.

Here’s the printing surface, a gel plate made out of plain gelatin:

gel plate and brayer for spreading paint thinly

gel plate and brayer for spreading paint thinly

An artist shared online how to make our own dang gel printing plate!  (Gelatin Printmaking – Monotype Prints by Linda Germain.)  That’s what I did.  Very easy and cheap!  It’ll last a couple of weeks in the fridge before, er, degrading.  A look around her website and I found a bit that describes how to rejuvenate the plate!

To the paint on the gel plate, add stencils or shapes.  Then “pull” a print by laying a sheet over the plate and rub the back.  Peel the sheet off and see the magic.  Can never tell what you’re going to get!

monoprinted papers

monoprinted papers

The fun part is printing over a page that has already been printed once or twice!

monoprint with masks and stencils

monoprint made with masks and stencils

Of course, I had no goal when I was creating these sheets, except to just try and see what happened.

Later, while dinking around on the Web, I found a video by an artist who gave us an idea what to do with all those enthusiastically printed sheets!   People are so generous!  Felicia Borges, Ombre Collage – Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate.  (In her video, she is using a commercially made gel printing plate.)

Here’s what I ended up with from all those prints:


Monoprints with acrylic paint on 16×20-inch canvas



winter bones of herbs and ornamental grasses

A seed-head sangwich!

I read about encasing bits and pieces in a sandwich of rice paper, so I did.  (The book:  Creative Collage Techniques, by Nita Leland and Virginia Lee Williams.)

collage instructions for embedding rice paper

collage instructions for embedding rice paper

rice paper embedded with grass seed heads etc.

rice paper to be encased with ornamental grass seed heads and the winter bones of herbs

layering rice paper

layering rice paper

embedded rice paper

encasing rice paper

sandwiched with brayer

sandwiched with brayer

embedded and turned over

embedded and turned over for a different effect

finished embedded rice paper

finished embedded rice paper


And just because I wanted to, circle stickers stuck to onion skin wrong-side-to.

circle stickers embedded in onion skin paper

circle stickers on onion paper

circle stickers on onion skin paper

my reality: brain injury

I have been circling around this writing for at least a couple of months, which means that all day long, I try to find something else to think about.  But, at some moments, the pain and horror of my situation threaten to overcome me.   I must find a way to express the daily realities, to let them wash over and around me instead of smashing me gasping under a wave, getting my face scraped off along the sand.



In the summertime, I think, heretherebespiders wondered where my upset was about all that had happened.  I didn’t have an answer.

I see now that the answer lay in the brain fog I lived in for better than 9 months.  The fog has been lifting steadily I see, and especially since about October.

This has been and continues to be a terribly lonely journey.  I have no map whatsoever.

Who can tell me what parts of the aftermath to attribute to the near-death by C. diff or to the systemic chaos and near-shutdown caused by septic shock?  (If you’re curious about the shape of the aftermath over the last year, at the top of the page on the left is the category Illness.  Choose the subhead “somewhere near the middle.”)

The truth shall set me free.  I hope.

The truths:

I have about two to three hours of brain strength per day.  If I exceed that, I become overtired.

Take a long moment right now and imagine having three hours per day to be “productive.”  That includes making breakfast and lunch, laundry, dishes, feeding the cats, and visiting with family at home.   Now add in something enjoyable like art.  How does it all fit?  It fits into a daily dance, a constant choosing.

The hints of fatigue are not broad, so I sometimes miss them.

Or, I ignore them because I just want to be the me of the before-time, with interests and curiosities and friendships and the energy to pursue same.

Brain strength is different than physical strength; brain strength operates the physical strength.  When I start to get tired, the feeling is thus:  every last one of my three gajillion body cells starts to shrink into flatness as the energies are squeezed out from those mini power plants, and I begin to crumble in on myself.

moods in collage

moods in collage

My brain goes vacant, with spaces of nothing between thoughts or conversation, my eyes blink slowly.  I have no idea that my judgement is impaired because, well….

Driving remains difficult and only attempted when I’ve checked internally for energy and tested for slow blinks.   The thought of injuring someone is too grievous to fully contemplate.

Music is still lost to me.  How can that be?

My daily life is a state of being tired.   If I become overtired, I become mush.  I melt.  Tears and sobbing amid confused heartbreak.  Apparently, this is quite normal with a traumatic brain injury.

I live in perpetual remove from the world–if you were with me, you’d see a flat affect, but might think I was being introspective.  But if you know me, you might wonder where the sparkly amusement was, the eyes crinkling as I understand a joke about to happen.

Now you’d see me waiting for you to finish talking, then I’ll probably laugh.  As long as I’ve understood the joke.

With the overtired, the hazy remove from the world intensifies and deepens, so that I’m very far away and it is too much effort to try to understand conversation, and words on a page tumble and blend into blobs of glop (‘though words tumble even when I’m not overtired).



Recently, quite by accident, I heard the best description for all these moments:  the becoming over-overtired is when the battery of my brain runs down.    The tears aren’t depression in the clinical sense.  Recovery time is whatever it is.

I spent a day with a friend several weeks ago, a day I have been pining for–she is wonderful people and has always fed my soul and spirit.

Two days later, I crashed hard, face-down, scraping against the sand, gouged to the bone, as the wave dragged me around.

The crashes are horrible–I want to disappear so Big Mister doesn’t witness the melty goo.  He used to hate it when I would cry; those before-time cryings were nothing compared to how it goes now.  I see the heartbreak in his face.  I want to run and recover by myself, let him not see the crying and agonies.

When I’m over-overtired, mundane household stuff can be beyond my ability.  On a recent night I couldn’t figure my way through putting dishes into the dishwasher.  Tears.  Explanation and departure.



My fears:

If I slow down as far as I need to in order to remain brain-unruffled, I’m terrified that I’ll just stop.

I will be left by myself in this mess.

The mess will be permanent.

The good news:

The brain fog has been lifting.

I have continued doing art since I began again in late spring, several months out of hospital.

pages and pages

pages and pages of painting

I walk better, needing less concentration.

My verbal language has returned to about 90 percent of the before-time.  I have always said quirky stuff, so it’s less upsetting now.  Mostly, it’s less upsetting because the balance shifted out of brain-addled to more ability.

My written language has returned to about 90 percent as well.  Typing and writing are both still challenging–still I write words backwards or even words I hadn’t intended to write or type.  Forming the letters by hand sometimes comes in unfamiliar patterns.

The massive, nauseous headaches of the last several months are becoming infrequent.

I get the impression that the me emerging from this mess is the sunny, happy child I was:   sweet and loving, with less of the hard person I had become.

But if I’m tired, and struggling to understand, I may explode with the fatigue of concentrating on the moment and shout in frustration.  Probably only with Big Mister, unfortunately for him and us.

I want to live and I want to live well.  That much I have learned in these just-shy-12-months since coming home from a short hospital stay to discover my brains had been scrambled.


In those early November days in the garage studio, freezing my a&& off, I learned to doodle from an enthusiastic and talented doodler who generously posted her techniques online (Joanne Fink, Zenspirations Patterning Techniques).

I remembered that I’m not a natural doodler, but I’ve begun to see how it could add something to an already painted page.


doodling (on canvas sheets)

At one daily show-and-tell after Big came home from work, I showed him that I had learned to doodle.   He told me I already knew how to do this and pointed to the beaded curtain I had made some years ago:

beaded curtain

I kept messing with doodling, using those markers, color pencils, and Micron pens I’d gathered for landscape design school:

Fibonacci's Spiral; golden mean

Fibonacci’s Spiral; golden ratio (the flip side of the first doodle)

If you’re curious about the Fibonacci’s Spiral or the golden ratio, this site looked great.  Don’t get bogged down by the words–look at the pictures and especially watch the little animations at the beginning.

Nature and mathematics or perfectly-harmonious-but-I-don’t-know-why architecture:  who’d-a thunk it?!  <:-D

Art by Committee

After much hilarity after having posted my art, dahling, I’ve decided we need to look at the painting from several angles.

As posted first:

Happy Pigs in Space

Happy Pigs in Space–the artist photographed the painting, having ignored the original working angle.

I’ve been watching the original Muppet Show, so am getting echo reminders of Pi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-gs in Spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-ace even if I haven’t seen any episodes yet.  Jude so kindly named the painting for me/us after I kept calling it The Thing.

As further suggested by Jude on the Committee:


The Three Fishes


The Three Fishes (goin’ thataway!)

As intended by the artist, and continually referred to as the thing (not really bothering to give the words the honor of title case until spoken to by Pix on the Committee, who was worried about giving the painting a complex):

acrylic abstract 14x17 inches--bouquet

the thing, identity complex in full swing

acrylic abstract, as intended

Roses Are Not Always Red! (named by Jude on the Committee)

Are we ready for the framers?  (hahahahahahahahahaa!)

I’ve been ironing… paper

The paper gets curly from all that wet paint, and the iron isn’t being used for anything else anyway….

Odd story about this iron.  It’s new and shiny and even has a teflon plate, but I didn’t buy it.  Back a few months ago when I was messing with the mending (gasp!) and sewing, I was using my old iron as a helpful adjunct to sewing.   I kept noticing this weird sticky stuff on the fabric or the ironing board cover.  Turns out the feet in the heel plate were melting!

Upon writing to the Sunbeam people to ask whatthehell politely, they said:

  • it appeared the product was not operating as designed.  (!)
  • they’d send me a new iron!

Which they did.  Forthwith!  Amazing customer service!  No muss, no fuss, no telling me what an idiot consumer I was.  What a great experience!

So, anyway, there it sat not being used for ironing clothing….

acrylic abstract 14x17 inches

acrylic abstract 14×17 inches

The triangles come from a stamp I made out of foam core–the stuff that often backs framed art or photos.

It occurs to me that with abstract painting, it would be good to not frame the thing until purchased, and then frame it according to the customer’s vision.  Wouldn’t that be a gas?  (As it is, when I was working on the thing, I had it turned 180 degrees so the triangles were pointing down.)

We are amused at the audacious use of the word “purchased.”

making stamps

Sounds like “making book,” but I haven’t been doing any gambling.  Well, not with money, anyway.

The art world is generous in the extreme in sharing knowledge.  I learned some of these stamp-making techniques from Approachable Art by Judi Hurwitt (mixed media and textile artist).

String, apparently, we’ve been using since we were kids to make stamps.  Except I didn’t, so it’s new to me.  The bright green squiggles and squares are 3D paint I had leftover from some art attempt in the dark ages.

That painted blue page has imprints of other string and 3D paint stamps I’d made (poking out from under the easel).


It must be a sign of true love, BuddyBoop:


This pic makes me think of Wazeau and her beautiful crochet pieces that her cats insist on sitting on!

Always helping, but more in a revolving-door fashion.  Here I was cutting out a stamp and stencil and Calpurrnia held down the cardboard for me, the sharp x-acto knife by her bum notwithstanding.


Buddy came along after I’d finished with the knife.  That piece on the easel is where I’d used the 3D paint stamp of squares.


That is all.  Kinda talkative for a Blurt and Run.  I’ll try harder next time.  <:-D




a few mixed media pages (BnR)

All:  8-1/2 by 11 inches (21,6 x 28 cm)


These bottom two are in the art journal I sewed together.  In the blue one, you can see the waxed thread holding together one group of pages, called a signature.




BnR*: tearing paper

Get on out to your toolbox in the garage and steal that hacksaw blade you only use twice a year.  At least now you’ll know where it is.  Probably.

hacksaw blade

Canson Mix Media, 98 lb (160 g), 14 x 17 inches (35,5 x 43,1 cm).

Banged-up hacksaw blade.

In the background we have, unrelated but curiously useful, household supplies:  isopropyl alcohol to speckle and distort acrylic paint and spackling compound to apply an inexpensive texture to a page.

Also, an art journal I sewed together from embellished pages–you can just make out ripple-cut edges–from a Fiskar’s rotary cutter leftover from sewing days.

(Thankfully, I have been curious all my life because all that past-life stuff is sitting around me now.  Including beads, buttons, wire, string, drywall tape, and hacksaw blades!)

(Oh, and if you really enlarge the pic, on the far back left you’ll see a damn purchased cat toy that the damn cat damn well plays with!  The other damn cat will deign to eat cat cookies from it if hand-fed.  Sigh…)

Here’s a close-up of the tear marks when tearing two sheets stacked.  Bonus stencil for free!

hacksaw results plus bonus stencil!

PS.  I just used the hacksaw to cut up a hair comb to be used as a texture tool.  (I don’t need no stinkin’ comb for my hairdo!)

*BnR = Blurt and Run

missing mosaic mojo; welcome mixed-media messing-about

I had to stop working in the mosaics studio at the end of October–misplacing my mojo was just too distressing.  An artist friend told me to take a break or I’d start hating what I was doing.  She was right.

Here are a couple of pieces, the green one of which is a wedding present for a couple who married 1-1/2 years ago.  Ooops, I missed the “polite” deadline for a gift.   They’re both finished, bar grouting.

stone guilloche



Yet another artist friend came over to help me get started in mixed media art, collage particularly.  About which I knew nothing.  She brought books and some lovely watercolor paper, plus a kind of liquid medium that is used as both an additive to acrylic paints and for protecting stuff.

Trust me!

Trust me!

Mixed media is quite the artform.  Turns out that if it weren’t so pleasurable to buy art supplies, I wouldn’t have needed to buy any.  Apparently, over the years, I’ve been collecting mixed media art supplies unbeknownst to myself!

I found two kinds of acrylic paints–artist and craft, inks for a roller (plus the brayer, carving tools and carving block), all my drawing stuff from the school effort, and tons of beads, buttons, and whatnot.  Plus, of course, sparkly crayons!

I spent three weeks out in the studio messing about, during which time I discovered that the cold was killing me — me, the lover of winter, who thrived in the cold.

Packed it all up before Thanksgiving and came indoors where I commandeered part of the living room right next to a window so I now have natural light!

Mixed media is a blessing for folk who save something because it has an interesting shape, texture, or color.  Or to be honest, just because it’s cool, who cares why!  <:-D

A more direct description of mixed media art could be mixed technique art.

Digression:  creativity comes when disparate objects and/or thoughts come together in a new form.

My first completed piece was an expression (ahem) of the last 10 months.  My mother pointed to a part of it and said it would give her nightmares.  I started to cry.  Nuff said.

I didn’t know whatthehell I was doing, and could not understand the books.  (Words and images move around on a page, so I cannot “see” the instructions.)  But in a kind of desperation of wanting to play, I kept at it.  Found another book that had instructions I could come to understand (mixed-media artist Claudine Hellmuth’s book).

People are so creative!  This artist uses all kinds of stuff to create texture on a page–like tissue paper over paint, paint over masking tape(!), and plastic wrap smooshed paint.

Perhaps a couple of examples, then later I’ll stop in for a Blurt and Run.

This is tie-dyed paper toweling!  (kitchen roll for you outta-towners)…. !!  Once it has the acrylic medium added over the paint, the texture becomes like starched lightweight burlap.

paper toweling!

This is an instruction out of Claudine Hellmuth’s book.  She’s smooshing tissue paper over acrylic paint on the canvas.  The blue bit is paint over masking tape.

Boating Trip, by Claudine Hellmuth

Boating Trip, by Claudine Hellmuth

Despite wanting to make a cheery, red polka-dotted boat, here’s what came outta mah haid:

Boating Trip:  my interpretation

Boating Trip: my interpretation

Lastly, the only other finished piece (again based on Claudine Hellmuth’s work), a birthday gift for Big Mister.  On the back was the announcement of a subscription to Asimov’s Science Fiction monthly.

Starry Girl

Starry Girl

That is all.  For now.  Oozing along.

Blurt and Run: making stamp pad inks

This is a Blurt and Run because I’m too tired, etc., to start at the beginning.  And, I only get about 2 hours a day to play.

Here I start somewhere in the middle of the new art form I’ve been dabbling in, mixed media.

making stamp pad inks

If you’ve ever used a fancy carved stamp, you know they’re nice but expensive.

And the stamp pads?!  We used to get ’em at the office supply place for the workplace stamps like DRAFT, CONFIDENTIAL, TOP SECRET, etc.   Whoo, now they’re a huge business, and have been for eons.

We’re minus-broke and while it would be nice to do whatever I want in order to recover, I really want to keep our house.  I’m improvising a lot.  Which is excellent for my poor battered brain.

Today, kids, I made my own damn stamp pads AND the ink!

Used baby wipes and felt as “stamp pads.”  Here’s where I got the ink recipe, which uses RIT dry dyes.

Makes about 1/3 cup.  Store leftovers in baby food jar.

supplies: making stamp pad ink

final product

The cloth seemed to hold too much ink so the stamps were too wet.  I put a piece of felt over the cloth.  Better.  (Next time, no baby wipes, I think.)

The dinosaur stamp came in a grab-bag package at the thrift store with that fancy roller stamp, and the print looks horrible; he doesn’t know it yet, but I’m gonna use him as a backing for a stamp I made.  Buh-bye, ugly dino!

I already had a boatload of flavors of RIT because I used to dye my own basket reed.   I KNEW there was a reason to keep all this shite!  <:-D

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