Art Immersion Oaxaca--Sign Up Now!

I have been waiting to go back to Oaxaca ever since I left there in the Spring 3 years ago. It's like that with Oaxaca. It gets into your blood and you need to keep going back. You miss the food, the artistry, the climate, the terrain, the food, the city, the traditions, the culture, the food, the antiquity, the crafts, the colors, the mezcal, and did I mention the food? It is an artist's wonderland, a cultural treasure beyond description.

So when Jewel Murphy asked me to join her and teach an art retreat in Oaxaca, it was a no brainer. She, being the US Ambassador to Oaxaca, has a backstreet knowledge of it that opens doors and enhances experiences. I had already been on one of her excursions, and had stayed at the same fabulous hacienda. So I cannot think of a better place to hold a mixed media art workshop, and I can say, without a doubt, that this is going to be a trip to remember.

Oaxaca Art Immersion Retreat Dates: March 17-27, 2017

For details about the trip click here.

Oaxaca has long been an artistic center in Mexico. We will get inspired by visiting museums, churches, market places, artist studios and galleries that showcase the outstanding art and craft work of the area, from ancient to modern times. Our workshop program will integrate the creative culture of Oaxaca into our projects, informing the art we make.

If you like hanging out with fun loving, creative people, making art everyday, tasting amazing food, staying in a wonderful place, getting inspired by incredible art, shopping at some of the best places in Mexico, visiting museums, churches, galleries, studios and more, then join us on this creative excursion to a place that will stay in your heart forever.

Paper Clay Workshop at Keizer Art Association in Keizer, OR

First of all, the Keizer Art Center is one of the nicest I have ever seen. Wonderful lighting, beautiful art room, and super nice people. And check out this adorable building.

As always, my class was full of enthusiastic artists who jumped in fast to make art using paper clay. I had 3 returning students which is always a joy to me. I love when I can meet up with these great people again. Artists are just fun to be with!

We had two days to work, but time always slips away too quickly and most did not finish their pieces...but they are well on their ways!

I wish I could take credit for their wonderful work...but some people are just plain getting good at it! The fabulous vase is by Katrina Pruett who has taken the workshop before and brought in her project (still working on it) from home to share. I just love seeing how different each person's work turns out, even when we all do the exact same project!

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Paper Clay Workshop at Emerald Art Center, Fall 2016

It was like we had known each other for years. What a fun group. I have been blessed with fabulous fun loving students in all my workshops. Each willing to try something new and different from their normal art making practices. And I am always amazed at how quickly people catch on and make art that surprises them...and me!

Thank you to everyone for making this a fun workshop. A special thanks to those who drove from far away. To those who took my class for the second (and third) time. And to everyone for being kind, supportive, and helpful to each other. Honestly, what is more fun than getting together with like minded people to make art with each other in a nice art space?

You can click on images to enlarge them.

My creative class at Emerald Art Center, Fall 2016. Thank you to our wonderful volunteer helpers from EAC who set up the room, fed us with snacks all day, made great artwork themselves, and took pictures of the workshop for everyone. Grateful!

Heartfelt Hands

I started off just making a few thank you gifts for some helpful people. Then I started making variations. Before I knew it, I have amassed a whole collection of little hands, and I want to make more! Each one is sculpted and painted differently than the others. There are countless variation possibilities. Working in a series is a lot of fun.

Heartfelt Hands, each hand is about 3" x 6", Made from paper clay with a paper or felt backing

I started out making one hand, and then casting it so I could make multiples. I use paper clay to make the original and also the cast. Then I use paper clay to make duplicates. I cover how to do this in my book.

I realized that it was most fun to cast a plain hand and then make whatever I wanted to put into the palm. The only problem is that now I want to keep making variations of them and I need to get on with other work. I have to admit, it is really great to have something to work on for those days when I feel unproductive and uninspired.

I will be posting some how-to tutorials on youtube.com this month. I will let you know when that happens!

LITTLE BRUNA, My First Paper Clay Art Piece

Little Bruna, Paper clay/mixed media, 12 x 18, completed in 2004

This is a small portrait I did of my mother, Bruna Marie Riccomini, from a photograph of her as a child. She died after having Alzheimer's Disease for more than 10 years. If you have ever lost anyone from Alzheimer's, you know that it is a very long process of mourning, as you lose a little more of them each day.

To help process my grief, I stayed home from work for a week in isolation and made this portrait of her from paper clay. It was the first time I tried to use it in bas-relief on a flat surface and it worked. So in a way, I feel that this technique I developed was a gift from my mother.

Bruna was first generation Italian and very proud of it. She came from a very long line of hardworking, innovative, industrious Italians. She was very creative and when she did anything, it was done right. Honoring her with this portrait helped me remember all the wonderful things she ever did for our family, and that she was once a young girl with dreams about a wonderful future.

The words at the top of her portrait say "BRUNA, She made things beautiful and she made beautiful things."

Thank you mom.

My mother, Bruna Marie Riccomini, Age 15

Oregon College of Art and Craft Workshop

I am always so appreciative of the kind of people that take my workshops. They are usually fun loving, kind and creative...all of my favorite characteristics. This class was no exception. I love it when laughter reins.

Sadly, the room we were assigned was poorly lit, had buzzing light fixtures and the tables and stools were uncomfortable because you could not put your legs under the tables. But the class suffered through it and did some amazing work. As always, time ran out before people could finish their work. But good art takes time and I am hoping all will finish their pieces and send me jpegs so I can share them here eventually.

You will see clay work from the first day and some of the painted clay work from the second day. Thank you to all my students from this workshop for a great effort and for making it a fun experience for me and for the other students in the class.

Letting Go, Again

I have finished my piece that I was working on while traveling. I made 8 birds while on the road. Then when I returned to my studio, I built the rest of the piece and adhered the dried clay birds onto it and added a few more.

While posting images of the white clay, so many people said they would love to see some of my work remain white. And so I have been working with that idea.

Letting Go18x24Paper clay and acrylic paint on canvas

Letting Go18x24Paper clay and acrylic paint on canvas

I have made this image before. The first one I made for a friend who died from cancer, the second for another friend who died from a brain tumor. And so began a life long tribute to those who have had to let go of life.

The inspiration for this series is this quote by Lao Tsu from the I Ching:

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."

Working on Paper Clay While Traveling

As crazy as it might seem, I like to sculpt paper clay when I travel. Like while I am traveling. In a car, on a bus, on a train or airplane. I take along clay that I have already rolled out and cover it with plastic. Then I take my designs on tracing paper. I take a few tools, a small cup for water and extra plastic to use under the clay while I am working on it.

When I get home I can adhere my clay pieces to a larger work and finish it. This piece is another in my series called Letting Go. To see others in the series, check my gallery under Paper Clay Folk Art and Mixed Media Paintings

I did this while on the Amtrak train from Seattle to Portland. I carry two small boards to sandwich them between so I can keep them flat.

I did this while on the Amtrak train from Seattle to Portland. I carry two small boards to sandwich them between so I can keep them flat.

Paper Clay FUNdamentals Workshop

What a fun workshop we had this weekend! Each person did such a great piece. Below you will see their clay work, along with the black and white, and then their final piece in class (some were not quite finished). What a great group of women. Each with their own style and ideas. Such creativity. I am so proud of their work!

Keep Your Pallet Clean

Here is my trick to keeping my glass pallet clean when using acrylic paint. It's a good way to keep paint from going down the drain and into the water supply. You can just throw it in the trash after it's dry.

Body of Work

Once in a while I get an idea to do something that excites me until I can actually work on it. This piece was one of those pieces. I thought about making a body and adding elements to it that I sculpt separately. I have done it before, but this time I added connecting elements like stems and leaves. This makes it so much easier to work on because I can sit comfortably and sculpt each element, rather than having to stand and bend over a large piece. When I can relax while working, I am more careful and thoughtful about what I am doing.

I planned to paint this black with rich colored flowers and birds. Having the green leaves and stems be the unifying color. But now that I see it in white, I like it as it is. So I kind of have a dilemma.

I got lots of comments on facebook to leave it white or add subtle color.

Stay tuned to see what happens. Even I don't know at this point.