Friday, December 28, 2007

IF: Soar

This painting fits in with this week's Illustration Friday topic because it is titled "Soar" which just happens to be this week's topic!
Soar, acrylic painting on brown mailing paper, 35.5 x 40"
Click on photo for larger view, use your browser's back button to return to this blog.
Click for information on purchasing this painting.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Altar to the Bee

I just finished my final project for my Sacred Geometry class. I created an altar to bees using encaustic (wax) painting medium, a Super (bee hive box), bee hive frames, altered stickers, wooden bees, live flowers, candles and found objects.

My favorite found object is a vintage h
oney pot my mother in law was about to toss out.

omething really cool happened while I was doing the encaustic painting, a very large honey bee flew through the altar and buzzed around each of the melting encaustic color pans then left.

I told my sacred geometry professor that it must have been Artemis coming to bless the project...

Remember you can always click on the images to see larger views!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Magus

these two images are my compositional ideas for the woodblocks I will be carving for the Magician cards. I like the composition of the magician juggling the implements of his craft.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

IF: Superstition and Inspire Thursday: Ghost

La Llorona, The Weeping Woman mourns eternally for in a moment of madness she drowned her poor babies and upon realizing what she had done ran screaming back to the river to join them.

...children, hurry home before dark and kiss your mammas who love you. If you should hear the wailing --"¿donde estan mis hijos?" (where are my children?) -- run, run home quickly for if you tarry under the full moon she may clasp you to her breast and then you will see her empty eyes leaking tears of blood. And then if you don't die from fear then you will die when she takes you with her -- back to her watery grave.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Little Bit of What I've Been Up To...

So I've started the planning for my MFA project. I've ordered and recieved the paper. And I've decided on the packaging. Rather than make clamshell boxes I've found a source for tin boxes with a window in the top. I think a tin box will be better protection and a cleaner presentation than a handmade cloth and chipboard box. They are a perfect size for a full deck and there is enough space to line the bottom part of the box with cloth. I'm thinking of periwinkle; either silk or velvet.

I did some digital collages for the Fool card and I'm presently mulling over the Magician. One will be transfered to 4 - 4x6" blocks. I'll carve the blocks, 1 keyline & 3 color, then print them hanga style.

I also designed the image for the back of the cards. I did a few digital tessellations of bees. I like the hexagonal one with the periwinkle background the best. I'm thinking of having an aquatint intaglio plate made for this. I will have the black parts etched into a 9x12" plate with the 4x6" image repeated 4 times I can print 4 cards at once with. I will use Akua water based intaglio inks. I'll apply the black ink into the etched areas, wipe the plate then roll periwinkle ink over the plate then print it. I'll drop in the yellow with a hand made block.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Altares del Mundo 2007

this year at the Altares del Mundo: A Celebration of Remembrance exhibit Carol is celebrated by a team of artists. In the same room I expanded the vision with an imaginary memory of Carol and my Mother dishing over coffees...

Exhibit from 10/12/2007-11/2/2007, Phantom Gallery, 920 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA Gallery hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12-5:00 PM

click on pictures to view larger images

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eulogy for the Best Mouser I Ever Knew

So sad this week. We had to put down our little cat Buster Catitude. His kidneys suddenly and completely shut down and despite treatment his blood counts were rising rather than lowering. As we visited him at the vet hospital Buster had a violent seizure. It was definitely time to let him go.

Buster was immortalized in my artwork, our son's professional graduation photos and my husband's photography. Buster was also the protagonist in an art book I created last year about the backyard wildlife.

My friend Carol was especially fond of Buster and loved to hear stories of his latest escapades. She loved the art book he was in and read it often aloud to others.

Buster used to amuse us with his playfulness and spunky character. Every morning he would attack Jeff's shoe laces as he dressed for work. The night before he got sick he had snuck a rodent into the house (did I mention that Buster could open doors). I walked into the kitchen to discover that he had pulled a rug over to make a tunnel in which he trapped a small field rat. He saw me and ran out of the house leaving the rodent for me to deal with...I put a box over it and waited for Jeff to return home, letting him dispose of the creature as he saw fit...Buster gave us one last amusing memory to carry with us and once more proved to us of how much he earned his keep.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Friday, July 27, 2007

IF: Moon


35" x 46"
Acrylic Paint

This painting was just hanging around waiting to step in for this weeks Illustration Friday topic.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Day of the Dead Tarot

It's really been a while, I didn't realize just how much energy my job was robbing me of. Thankfully I've quit that job. It was just not a good fit for me. Now I will be spending the next two years developing and printing the Major Arcana of a Tarot Deck.

I had a very successful oral presentation in San Francisco yesterday at the Academy of Art University. My proposal for my Masters Thesis project was approved. The abstract will be posted in the next paragraph to be followed by the written proposal. It will be the first steps in creation of a Day of the Dead Tarot

Day of the Dead Tarot

The Major Arcana in Woodcut


For my masters thesis I propose the creation of a woodcut edition of 10 sets of Day of the Dead themed Major Arcana; the first 22 trump cards in a deck of Tarot.

Through meditation and study I hope to develop and combine culturally mixed archetypes and symbols of my various ancestral influences into a series of images that can be universally understood.

I will execute these 3.5” x 6.5” images using the ancient Japanese Hanga method of multicolor woodcut printing and modern relief cut materials such as “Easy Cut®” to create a first edition of 10 sets.

I intend for this section of the tarot to be 22 individual miniature works of art that merge cohesively into a loose-leaf book that will be presented in a handmade clamshell box.

This will not be a set of cards for divination but rather a nonlinear fine art book for meditation and growth, or simply for artistic appreciation.

The Project

It is my intention for my master’s project to be the initial step into a significant body of work that has been formulating in the back of my mind for probably most of my life. I grew up in an art studio and learned to draw and paint by direct observation. In my first college printmaking survey class I discovered woodcut printing and have been near obsessed ever since. I’ve also studied Tarot and metaphysics since adolescence so it’s only natural that I should eventually come around to combining my artistic and spiritual interests.

I was babysitting in the mid 1970s and the kids were asleep; seeking to relieve the boredom I scanned the client’s bookshelves and came across a book on Tarot. The cover image was intriguing and a quick scan of the contents compelling so I sat down and read it while the client’s children dreamed. The client was surprised on her return to find me wide awake. Realizing I’d been inspired by her library, she pulled out an unopened Rider-Waite Tarot and gifted the deck and book to me. I treasured that gift and practiced with it for over 30 years. Finally in the late 1990s I re-gifted the book and well worn cards to another artist who was developing her own tarot deck. At that time I was experiencing life changes; my only child had left home for military training and I quit my job to use his unused college savings to resume my own interrupted education.

While held captivated in an intense art history lecture I began to visualize the mythological ideologies and Tarot based archetypes that were being discussed. It began with imaginary visions correlating the lecture discussion to the Day of the Dead art and altar installations I’ve been doing for over a decade. These daydreams lead to even more imaginary visions of a Day of the Dead Tarot. It then dawned on me that my medium, woodcut printing, would materialize these visions beautifully and could also make a great master’s thesis.

The concept I have for my master’s project is to create a Day of the Dead woodcut edition of the Major Arcana of a Tarot (the first 22 trump cards, numbers 0-21). Eventually I intend to make the whole deck but each card requires much meditation and study to develop poignant symbolism so it will take several years to complete all 78 cards. The Major Arcana are the most involved cards and are the foundation for the rest of the deck. They are iconic representations of the best and worst qualities of humanity. Some new age groups claim that they are catalysts for initiation into increasingly higher levels of spiritual growth. I want the cards I create to tie the aspects of the Day of the Dead, an indigenous cultural event and the Tarot, a European concept. I intend to develop this deck using iconography from my Chicano and Indigenous ancestry as well incorporate symbols from my European and Modern American cultural background. Since most archetypes and symbols are universal I should be able to find and develop a wealth of cross cultural transformational imagery.

These cards will not be laminated so they will not be appropriate for divination, rather they will be a non linear book that can be used for meditation, self reflection and artistic appreciation. I intend for each card of this Tarot to stand on it’s own as an individual work of art and still be able to cohesively fit in with the rest of the collective as pages in a loose leaf picture book.

Each card will be produced using the non-toxic Japanese Hanga style of woodcut printing. In this technique a different plywood surface is carved for each color to be used in the image. The mediums used are watercolor paints and rice paste. I intend to do a 4 color process using Baltic birch plywood for the keyline (black line art) matrix and “Easy Cut®” for the primary color fields. I will work in transparencies of primary colors to create overlapping lines that produce secondary colors. The primary colors I will use are Thalo Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Lemon Yellow. I will print each image onto heavyweight fine art paper that is approximately 4”x7” with 4 deckled edges.

I will complete a 1st edition of 10 sets of Major Arcana in two years by cutting the block and printing a new card each month. Each set of the edition will be presented in its own custom handmade clamshell box to house and protect it.

I hope during the course of this project that I will find a deeper level of self actualization that will help me to develop my personal artistic style. I also hope to refine my artistic skill and craftsmanship.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Iraq Exchange Proof-Exchangers-stay away if you don't want to spoil the surprise!

Here is the keyline plate in progress and then a proof. The proof was printed on acetate to transfer easily to my other blocks.

As always click on image to see a larger view.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Daffodils, Skeletons and Tanks...

Here is my previous project for my silkscreen class. Nora's Daffodils have been completed for several weeks, I just felt more like remembering Carol than posting my artwork. There will be more remembrances of Carol through out the year, but I want to get back to the artmaking...

Remember, as always you can click on an image to enlarge it.

The next image is a collage I threw together for my next project. I'm combining my print for the Iraq Print (an exchange with some artists) and the next project in my relief printing class. The 9x12" assignment calls for drama, symbolism and a blend. The duststorm represents doubt and uncertainty, the tank fear and danger and the wagon represents the vulnerablilty of childhood. We are all vulnerable children in the monstrous face of any war. There have been so many unanswered questions regarding our leaders' political intentions that we Americans have been in a surreal cloud of confusion about what to think and who to trust. As a country we have been divided by those who question what's going on and those who question nothing out leaders do...some of us are just frustrated with a government that thinks nothing of sacrificing our children to this political quagmire while their own remain safe at home in ivory towers...

This last collage is for the next project in my silkscreen class. This assignment calls for a 10" x 12" print done in 8 runs, one of the runs must involve a blend and one of the runs must involve a vegetable oil stencil and one of the runs must involve a photo halftone. There must also be an element of symbolism in this project. (I think these classes sometimes follow a formula). Well this project is just rife with symbolism...but the main theme is transcendence and the title is "The Traveler."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Remembering the Jaguar

Today we gathered in rememberance of our dear friend Carol Wagner. We sat around and shared stories of Carol. There were some tears but mostly their was laughter in the joy of relating our good times with Carol and each other. Then Jeff and I went to Tres Hermanes, a fine Mexican restaurant that Carol and I liked. We feasted, talked of Carol and what a great restaurant she'd turned us on to. The prominent theme in each person's rememberance of Carol was of her brilliant mind. My son and I used to call Carol our walking encyclopedia. Over our 18 year friendship I got very good at egging Carol on and we would stay up all night drinking coffee and talking -- a little of this, a little of that, a little of everything and a lot of nothing...mostly I would listen, interjecting at just the right moment to get Carol started again and on another tangent...
I didn't realize that any one else had noticed how I would play Carol into dominating the conversation (and those that know me must be incredulous right now, but yes there was a person on this planet to whom I would cede conversational dominance...) any way I just read a post to that Robin Morris, an aquaintance who was also a great friend and admirer of Carol, had written. He had just met the two of us and had posted his first's always interesting to find out how people see you for the first time...he aluded to my mechanations in his post. It's funny this post was written nearly 2 years ago, I don't know why I had missed it... Well the forum had linked to the past post today in a rememberance page ( ) and today I read it for the first time. Boy was it heartwarming to read Robin's words today. Robin was at today's rememberance and he remembered Carol so eloquently, you see he was so blown away by Carol's brilliance that he moved to Sacramento to become part of her community. Anyway I decided to post Robin's post in here so those of you who follow this page but not the Baren Forum could read it. It warms my heart to read Robin's first impression and see that he saw clearly into Carol's big warm heart that day. I could see that some people didn't get Carol right away, and some others never did...but Robin saw the spark immediately and he wrote so well of it that I will just paste it below:
Message 10
From: Robin MorrisDate:
Wed, 6 Apr 2005 18:25:20 -0700
Subject: [Baren 27722] Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Printmakers...Vol.

Julio asked me for a report on my videotaping odyssey so I will share it here and I hope you all enjoy it, thanks-I'll get quiet for a few after this long post and try and do some carving,.
Hi Maria! get back to work... : )
Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Printmakers...and a poem by longfellow.
If you know Carol Wagner, she needs no introduction. If you don't, I would favor you with this brief description, which no matter howebullient is unlikely to give her the credit she deserves as a vital hostess, teacher, artist and scholar, not to mention a doting mom,rightly so proud of her son who is organizing large and complex Public health education efforts with a crack international team of young doctors at a brand new Medical College in Bangladesh.
Carol has a lovely view of sacramento out her window... an 8th-story aerie in the heart of town. From there the neighborhood looks a bit like the opening scene in "American beauty",with the lovely trees waving in the sultry Spring draft, and everywhere the rooftops and gables of old stately homes poking through the canopy, rolling out of view beneath the cerulean sky.She is friends to all kind folk who cross her path, and it was so warm and cozy there around her place I had a feeling that I had entered the small town americathat Norman Rockwell used to paint. In her presence though there was more of a Rockwell Kent feeling, that of being near someone who could never share all she knows with you,for she is wise, in art, literature and history, and has spent a good part of her life becoming thus. I felt like sitting at her knee, as she related each idea in an historical context citing Plato and Socrates,without once rolling eyes heavenward for a name or event. You'll see what i mean on the dvd as she narrates the meaning and origin of some of her artworks, as though she ahd it all written and right in front of her, never missing a beat, evry fact and conjecture in it's place, yet concise and well delivered, and then it is on to the next. Patti knew how to make best use of the lovely afternoon light, and urged us top shoot the art while we had that going for us, so the paintings were shot in a soft diffused glow that will make them look as fantastic as they actually are. I think there was a tv tucked under the table- just like the one my place, it looked dusty from disuse.Books towered over our heads, (no dust on them at all)...Ms. Wagner has had to divest of so many, she says, to fit into her modest sized apartment, but the ones she has kept looked like a dream library for the artist with an open mind.
Besides her eight years at the art store across the street, Carol comes from a lifetime in art, and her paintings in particular show this.She treated us to a showing of a series of her paintings inspired by her visits to Mayan excavations,and spoke of her teacher, who was the first to mix colors to match the traces archaeologists found on these temples from antiquity.So her paintings combine her ideas with the forms and colors of the original sculpted friezes.i felt very privileged to view them. i had a feeling of discovery as though i had dug through sand and found a secret vault deep in the Yucatan, and flicked a flashlight onto see art buried a thousand years ago. Even better in a way, because these images look more like they must have" way back when" than the actual rock that exists today, worn from time and the elements.naturally I took a lot of footage of these and they will be available to see on the dvd, as well as related art from all the printmkakers, because most printmakers paint or draw or sculpt, or print letterpress,or make books like Carol's friend Sharon who dropped by the store to show us her lovely handmade books of all sizes and creative shapes and bindings.and their other art will be a nice set of stills and where we can manage it, their own commentary about the work. Then prints are not left floating in air with no provenance but take their place in the forefront,with a rich background of related arts and crafts to support their existence.The window display at Art Ellis is really nice, and trumpets the baren group and woodblock printing in general. We bemoaned the glare that made it hard to get a good pic of the whole display, but i shot a lot of tape from all angles, so it should be usable.I had brought a handful of baren brochures for carol,to put in the store, and while i was there another pack of them arrived from Barbara Mason (you are on it, Barbara!)
Carol's good friend and co-barener Patti Phare-Camp joined us and she acts the perfect foil in conversation to Carol's witty and history ladenflow of conversation. Few I think could keep up with these women for a long day like we had. It was so much fun visiting that we ended up having lunch and dinner, and lingering at the end.There was a comeraderie going on-in the afternoon their friend Laura Liano dropped by to show us a lovely, huge coffee table book of art by Mexican and Mexican-American artists, calledTRIUMPH. She was in a big art show in Scottsdale AZ during the arts and crafts show there, and said that it wasn't well publicized perhaps, and was lightly attended. I suggested that next time they buy a booth near maria's, they would have got more exposure than tucked away in a gallery or museum!
As for Ms. Phare-Camp, a delightful, happy and bright woman who will be the next victim of the vidcam when we go to see her work!Anyone that enjoys reading, history, art and conversation, and laughter, would have enjoyed to be there. I know carol teaches art classes but i wonder if folks at baren know what a wonderful resource she is.
We toured her territory at the art store, where she has over 600 types of paper to choose from, and can lead you to the right stuff effortlessly.Ask her about paper at least! She's forgotten more than I will probably ever know, (and that is not a lot- she has a fantastic memory. From her brief and interesting lectures about such varied subjects as Dard Hunter,Hypatia, the aztecs and Mayas, Palanque, Xenobia, Cleopatra...well we really got her going because we were so interested.
Patti ,as i indicated is no slouch in conversation herself,and entertained and informed us (at all moments when we weren't regaling her. with stories! : )She told us how her instructor in art school had told the class that woodcut was a dead art, and how she had nonetheless latched onto it with a passion and stopped doing other forms, so addicted was she to carving and printing.Her part of the video will no doubt be more focussed on the woodblock form. Patti is a loving mother as well, she has a son stationed in Turkey right now and a daughter at camp Anaconda, not a place any of us would want to serve.Our hats should be off to her two kids for their contribution. They have gone where they were asked to go, and serve, they do.She is of indomitable spirit, and knows how to hold her ironclad support for her children and the defense of America in her mind,while wishing for an end sooner rather than later to the terrible conflicts half a world away, as do her children and so many of their colleagues.
Words in edgewise, we all got. if paid by the word we would have all had a profitable day i can assure you.)this letter is like a drop in the bucket of what we covered over a long and dreamy day..Coffee was required in the evening , we didn't know how to stop.I feel i added a few IQ points ( I can always use em) for having schmoozed with these fair damsels for a day. My heart was healed, too , after the wretched car incident of the other night, of which i'll say no more here.As the evening wore on, there was a reluctance on each part to pull the plug. like at the close of a great party.
Carol didn't want to end it but had to teach in the morning, and the stars had been out for quite a while.Patti and i said goodnight to Carol and I walked her out, bowing , half kidding, half not, respecting one another, newfound friends.Today I am aware that this 'peak experience seeker' , your humble reporter, was filled, for once to the brim,and with a lot more than just coffee.
My dad, rest his soul, spent part of his college days living in what had many years before been Longfellow's room at Bowdoin College in Maine,so he had an affinity for that fellow's poetry.I like it too. for you young whippersnappers, Henry WL was kind of the Walt Disney of poets, all family fare, but quality entertainment of it's type.i have two venerable copies of this set of poems (Tales of a Wayside Inn) with a different ending (he must have published different versions) that pales compared to this one-I had it memorized once but could only bring back shards when i tried...i found the lines I had half- remembered through a net search.
************************************************************************ ****
These are the tales those merry guests
Told to each other, well or ill;
Like summer birds that lift their crests
Above the borders of their nests
And twitter, and again are still.
These are the tales, or new or old,
In idle moments idly told;
Flowers of the field with petals thin,
Lilies that neither toil nor spin,
And tufts of wayside weeds and gorse
Hung in the parlor of the inn
Beneath the sign of the Red Horse.
And still, reluctant to retire,
The friends sat talking by the fire
And watched the smouldering embers burn
To ashes, and flash up again
Into a momentary glow,
Lingering like them when forced to go,
And going when they would remain;
For on the morrow they must turn
Their faces homeward, and the pain
Of parting touched with its unrest
A tender nerve in every breast.
But sleep at last the victory won;
They must be stirring with the sun,
And drowsily good night they said,
And went still gossiping to bed,
And left the parlor wrapped in gloom.
The only live thing in the room
Was the old clock, that in its pace
Kept time with the revolving spheres
And constellations in their flight,
And struck with its uplifted mace
The dark, unconscious hours of night,
To senseless and unlistening ears.
Uprose the sun; and every guest,
Uprisen, was soon equipped and dressed
For journeying home and city-ward;
The old stage-coach was at the door,
With horses harnessed, long before
The sunshine reached the withered sward
Beneath the oaks, whose branches hoar
Murmured: "Farewell forevermore."
"Farewell!" the portly Landlord cried;
"Farewell!" the parting guests replied,
But little thought that nevermore
Their feet would pass that threshold o'er;
That nevermore together there
Would they assemble, free from care,
To hear the oaks' mysterious roar,
And breathe the wholesome country air.
Where are they now? What lands and skies
Paint pictures in their friendly eyes?
What hope deludes, what promise cheers,
What pleasant voices fill their ears?
Two are beyond the salt sea waves,
And three already in their graves.
Perchance the living still may look
Into the pages of this book,
And see the days of long ago
Floating and fleeting to and fro,
As in the well-remembered brook
They saw the inverted landscape gleam,
And their own faces like a dream
Look up upon them from below.
Yeah, It was that good.RM
Thank you Robin for that poem. Two years ago when you posted it to Baren Forum I'm sure you had no idea that one day we would really cry "Farewell!"

Monday, March 19, 2007

Eulogy to a Jaguar II

Dr Atl Plays Futbol

Dances With Liberty

These are a couple of prints by Carol Gilbert-Wagner (aka Sacramento Carol). She had a reoccurring character in many of her works; her Latino muse, Dr. Atl.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Eulogy to a Jaguar...

Sacramento Carol pulls her first Solar Etching.

Dear Friend & Mentor...

may all your new adventures be nothing less than grand!!!

Abstract 32007

Here is the finished woodcut. this is my midterm project for my monoprint and relief printing class.

My next post will feature the next 4 runs of the daffodils silkscreen.