Mudpie misbehavior, mini jitters

The “Outrageous Watercolors” class is done– ahh, free time at last! Its seven weeks made my schedule just a tad too full, but every so often, it’s worth it. Here’s why.

For a session or two, the class veered into delightful chaos as we spooned drywall mud on masonite, sculpting ridges that would later receive paint, dropped from above, slid wetly, spattered. We dragged classroom tables off the carpet and onto the tile, and made a tremendous mess, this group of middle-aged women plus Bob and me – but no: we were just kids that evening, stirring science projects, poking our paws into every drawer while the adults were away. We took turns pressing patterns into the mud, scooting pigment around with palette knives and fingers and rubber ribs, flushing the extra goo down the sink. Minor misbehavior, miles away from the stuffiness art can acquire through excessive judgment and competition.

My masonite abstraction, containing about four ounces of pure pigment, I reckon.

Over the weeks, I’d learned that many of my classmates are professional artists with impressive portfolios (like Janet Sullivan and Elloie Jeter). I’m glad I didn’t know this at the start. It would have intimidated, maybe paralyzed. But these skilled artists muddled around too, making every kind of mistake and experimenting with strange media. The results were often wonderful, but I wouldn’t necessarily have guessed at their expertise. Their willingness to goof reminds me to have no shame in creating something unframeable, repeatedly. It is how we learn. It is where the magic happens.

The last time we gathered, we brought fruit and desserts along with our paintboxes and tools. We arranged the sweets under bright lights, and recreated them with paint. For two and a half hours there was nothing but silence and the smell of sugar. At the stroke of 8:30, we packed up our brushes, and ate our models. Here’s all that remains:

cupcake3 cupcake
(Hmm, perhaps Bernice’s Bakery might like to sell these as cards…? I should do a few more, then bring them a paper smorgasbörd. Which would entail purchasing a few more delicacies, which J. and I would have to consume afterwards, I suppose… oh darn!)

Speaking of peddling art, one of these weeks I am going to get up an online gallery of works available for purchase. It is time some of these paintings found good homes where they can spread joy, or at least rhino appreciation:

The bird on his back is an oxpecker–it’s a symbiotic relationship.

Fortunately, one of the paintings that came out of the watercolor class is headed to a good home later this month. It is being donated to the…


…which is a silent auction to benefit the programs of the ZACC (Zootown Arts Community Center). The annual event is called {mini} because each piece is smaller than 12″ x 12,” including the frame. I’m excited to have had a piece chosen for the show! This time, I won’t tease you with just a snippet. Here’s the whole piece, called Counter Balance:

2 counter balance

My aim was to put as much motion as possible into a still life, to play with that paradox.

Tangentially, painting it wasn’t the hard part– framing was the challenge. Here’s a quick tutorial: First, buy a used shadow-box frame from Goodwill, tear it open and put the mass-produced, faux-Japanese art it contains out of its misery. Next, rough it with sandpaper, wipe clean, apply about fourteen coats of spray-paint (some will blow onto the glass, so factor in a few minutes of frantic scraping), and reassemble, making sure that not even the minutest speck of trail mix gets on the inside of the glass, which is a considerable feat in our apartment.

(Shout-out to Frame of Mind, the source of the beautiful, nubby green mat. Amy there is always ready with assistance and suggestions, and she gives a 10% discount to people framing their own art. There are piles of gorgeous, colorful mat scraps on the cheap, and blessedly, she matches prices from the big box stores, even when they have sales.)

The {mini} show could be a good chance to meet lots of artists and patrons… provided I can rustle up the courage. The auction occurs at a fancy gala at the Wilma Theater with a 1920s/”Chapel of the Dove” theme. As an artist donating 100% of the proceeds of my auctioned piece, I get to go. So now my task is to find a flapper outfit, go to the dinner and auction, and not hide in a corner all night. This is also a chance to practice watching my art be auctioned off without getting too emotionally invested!

For everyone who is not willing or able to cough up $60 for a ticket, good news: the donated works are not cloistered in the Wilma yet. Any ol’ ruffian can preview the art for free at the ZACC’s Second Friday opening on March 11 – that’s this Friday:


Hope to see you there!

P.S. Seriously, though, anybody local have flapper gear for the borrowing? Fresh-baked muffins if you do!

4 Replies to “Mudpie misbehavior, mini jitters”

  1. you are perfect for the flapper look like Thoroughly Modern Millie movie…the Mary Tyler Moore persona! Take pics please!!! Love the mud art and rhino painting very much!!!

  2. Go Ann! I think you have some momentum here.

    I love your idea of motion in a still life – and your piece as a particular example of that. I think working within formal parameters (like still life or limited palette, etc.) is so interesting and worthwhile. Like haiku.

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