Sunday, July 26, 2009


In The Moment

Anticipation is a killer.

You know when you have something cool coming up and it takes everything to keep from obsessing over it? These days I try oh-so very hard to live in this moment and not anticipate future events...but it's difficult.

On Wednesday I leave for my 4th year at Jim Donovan's Rhythm Renewal Retreat in Loretto, Pa. The event has 5 days of hand drumming workshops, African dance classes, shamanic journeying, didgeridoo lessons, and the most insane night jams... Oh and let's not forget Saturday night's mega concert, Night of 1000 Drums. This year will also be the my debut as a faculty member, teaching my workshop, "Mandala: An Artful Meditation." So to say the least, I'm pretty excited.

Rhythm Renewal is the one place where I feel totally at home and at peace. This is a community of some of the best people I've ever met. These are my peeps. Growing up I always felt like an outsider and out of my element in most every situation. But not at the Renewal- and the trick is to bring that positive energy back home and continue to ride it until the next most wonderful thing comes along, and so on and so on. To pass it along and allow the energy to become infectious.

The image above is entitled "In the Moment" and I painted it during the faculty jam at the 07 Renewal. It depicts my friends Harry Pepper, P.J. Roduta, Brian Fazio, Elie Kihonia & Jim Donovan. It has come to be my symbol for allowing my mind to be occupied by just one thing at a time.

Two more days, but I'll do my best to live each moment until I get in the car & drive out to Central Pa. I will be sure to document this year's experience, and share it here when I get back. Each year at the Renewal has gotten better & better, and I'm certain this year will be no exception.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

1 Week to My First Mandala Workshop


It's official. I am going to be teaching people how to make their own mandalas.

Next week, I will be doing a series of three workshops entitled "Mandala: An Artful Meditation" at Jim Donovan's Summer Rhythm Renewal retreat in Loretto, PA.

I am very excited to be doing this because I believe the mandala is a form of spiritual expression that anyone can do, even if they have no prior art experience. It's about releasing self judgments and simply allowing yourself to make marks on paper.

By injecting intention into the process, it can be used as a form of artful affirmation. Once completed, it can be used for reflection, or it can be destroyed as a form of letting go.

The video below shows some of the over 500 mandalas I have created in the last couple of years. It's set to music from the CD "Pulse" by Jim Donovan.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ever try painting with your fountain pen inks?

063008 And this is my Reality. Elemental Mandala Doodle

As most fountain pen inks are water based and non-permanent, it was completely by accident that I found I could do more than simply write and draw with my inks.

This piece was done on Fabriano Hot Press Watercolor paper. I drew it with a Lamy Safari fountain pen filled with Private Reserve's Burgundy Mist ink. I wanted to add some color around the drawing so grabbed a Niji Waterbrush to paint the border a reddish brown. (Using watercolor paint) Because I wasn't working as carefully as I should have been, I accidentally got some of the ink lines wet, but quickly realized that I could use this to my advantage. All of the pink(ish) color you see was created by running the wet brush against the ink lines.

Purple Haze - a mistake turned to inspiration!

These next pieces were created by dipping a watercolor brush directly into a bottle of Private Reserve's Purple Haze ink then painting with it. I loved the shading that resulted from using the brush. Note: I often have a difficult time re-creating the color purple with my camera and scanner, but I assure you, this is purple.

Mixed Media Mandala

This piece started as the one in the upper right corner of the previous image. I used Fabriano Hot Press Watercolor paper, Private Reserve's Purple Haze ink, a Faber Castell Pitt Artist pen, and Prismacolor colored pencils.

Ink Mandala

Private Reserve's Burgundy Mist ink painted with a brush.

I filled my waterbrush with Rouge Opera

For the above image, I filled a Niji Waterbrush with J. Herbin's Rouge Opera ink and then painted with it on Clairefontaine fine art watercolor paper.

Mandala Doodle

This piece was drawn with a Lamy Safari filled with Diamine's Coral, which is an orangey-pink ink. Washing over with a waterbrush brought out the pink.

Mandala Doodle

Similar scenario to the above image though I believe this is Diamine's Sapphire Blue.

Ink & Paint Mandala

And lastly, this piece was first drawn with a permanent Staedtler Lumocolor marker on thick Clairefontaine fine art paper. I then used the waterbrush filled with Rouge Opera, to fill it in, and some Winsor & Newton pan paints from my Bijou Box to add the yellowish orange sections. I went back over certain parts of the image with the Rouge Opera to add depth and I do believe it builds up nicely.

New Niji Waterbrush

Niji Waterbrush. I buy mine at Blick - though I am aware that similar products exist from other manufacturers. It's basically a paintbrush with a built-in refillable water supply.
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