Year Long Canvas, 11/24/2014

YLC1122 003

Year Long Canvas as of 11/24/2014, copyright Jo Ann Brown-Scott

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” – Rumi

Please check my archives if you have no earthly idea what this Year Long Canvas is – painting this canvas is an ongoing project and carries with it quite a story. As you can see, she is back to being horizontally oriented again but you can like her in whatever direction you prefer. If you see a landscape here you are not alone; with nothing else at all done to her, or with a few small tweaks, the landscape idea could become more obvious right now, but it is still too far away from completion for me to settle on a landscape. Call me crazy but I have recently also seen the possibility for people in this composition – not large people, but groups of small people congregating as if waiting for something…in a horizontal row extending from one side to  the other, just along the upper side of the dark stripe that is the new change for this week. They would not be very tall, they would be colorfully dressed and have no distinctive faces. Just waiting.

I always thought that I wanted this painting to be an entirely abstract expression, with nothing recognizable, but I am even rethinking that now. My mind is an open book.

I am definitely learning to better trust myself after all the months of work; to trust my decisions and my judgment, as was one of the original goals for the project, but the other thing that has resulted from doing this, to tell you that truth, is that I have become quite a bit more open-minded about my own work. I accept my own opinions of my own work, which I suppose is one facet of trusting myself after all.

I love painting although I seldom understand it thoroughly. It might come as a surprise for many of you to know that almost every artist does not necessarily like his own work all the time. Many times I have painted a canvas that is not of my own taste. Even within my own paintings I see areas that are not always to my own liking, but sometimes I leave them there anyway, without my own approval. They bother me, they go against my grain and I know that sounds odd, doesn’t it? Well it’s  a strange exercise in intentional imperfection, which I do believe it a useful experience in art. It wakes you up.

The art Buddha understands why I do that, I do believe. He is still smiling and has a twinkle in his eye about this subject.




On Writing…


This is not the Year Long Canvas but it is by Jo Ann Brown-Scott, copyright 2012

Well ok, yes I have been doing some writing elsewhere, being unfaithful to my blog, seeking gratification with a more exciting venue and actually honest enough to admit that I love it and it completes me. I still love you blog, but this other exotic creature has got me by the scruff of my neck and it is choking the life out of me for more. More writing. Because it knows I am addicted.

I am writing a book, my third book, but the first two were just for practice, it seems to me now. This one is a novel and it is so much more fun that it surpasses doing either book and this blog, too, sorry to say. I am a woman possessed and I can’t stay away from the computer, which calls to me, coos to me, hoots and yells at me all hours of the day and night to write more. Ideas come to me in dozens, I have to carry a pocket tablet everywhere lest I lose some valuable tidbit. Because I do lose stuff – really great stuff – it just falls out of my mind sometimes in the time it tales to pour myself a glass of ice water, sometimes walking ten feet into the next room, or out to the car. I have the attention span of a gnat but it is because the ideas I have are coming at me like balls out of a batting machine and I can’t keep up. I guess it’s good problem to have, but it’s exhausting and I am all bruised up.

I have written so many computer pages in the last 3 months that it is pretty ridiculous. No one sits down and writes for 12 hours without batting an eye, 5 days a week. I don’t think it’s normal. I think I might have a problem.

You know how I love to paint – but I have forgotten what painting is, almost, except today I did some work on the year long canvas just because I felt so sorry for it. And it looks really good – I’ll send the latest and greatest changes soon. They only took me 20 minutes and now I can’t wait to write again.

I self-published my first 2 books with Amazon’s self-publishing division called CreateSpace and it was a very pleasant experience – I got listed automatically on Amazon, bought some marketing materials, used some other services from their menu of choices and it got done quite efficiently. I would recommend it to anyone.

This time I would like to approach agents or publishers and give that a chance, so I am hoping that if any of you have a connection, maybe you would let me know, because I do believe in 6 degrees of separation and the magic of networking. I was going to keep this a big secret but then I wondered what the point of that was. What would that accomplish? Certainly not a publishing deal. So please help me out if you can. I would provide a brief summary to anyone who might want to help me providing I can trust that whole thing.

Sorry I had to break this news to you that hard way – on the internet – rather than a personal note to everyone or even better, in person. But I have trouble tracking you down, all over the globe. Doesn’t mean I don’t love you, though. I still really, really love you, and I am going to break it off with the novel once I get her published. She seems a little fickle to me.












November Version of the YEAR LONG CANVAS


YLC November, copyright 2014 Jo Ann Brown-Scott

What nine months of attention does for an embryo, forty early mornings will do for your gradually growing wholeness….Your intelligence is marvelously intimate. It’s not in front of you or behind, or to the left or the right. – Rumi

Hello everybody! Here we are well into November and as I woke this morning I was in a great frame of mind due to absolutely nothing in particular. I had not even slept well, but something lit a little fire in me. After a long, crisp walk in the morning air the time was right; I was ready to apply the latest shock therapy to the canvas. The additional changes just happened, in less than fifteen minutes, to the Year Long Canvas that Homare Ikeda offered to me as a challenge and an assignment way back in March of this year. I would say we are in the home stretch now, but who ever knows when it will be done, or mostly done, or perhaps even continue? For those of you arriving late to this project, the objective is to continue to paint for a solid year on one particular canvas, adding layers and layers of new work on top of the old. It is an exercise in patience, confidence, acceptance of change, and testing one’s ability to focus over a long period of time on one constantly changing image. Of course I am painting other canvases as well, and finishing them, because I have a tendency to be quite task oriented. I like a feeling of accomplishment.

If you compare this version to the others in my blog archives about the YLC you will see that I am letting myself go more with each passing month, slinging the paint around with more abandon, opening my heart to more drastic change and actually having more fun with it than I did in the beginning. My loose and free-spirited attitude is picking up speed as I work through the months. I barely even try anymore – I just work mindlessly. It is my arm but something else is guiding me. I feel it arriving from over my shoulder, it comes through me and lands on the canvas. It is as if I am not even here. I am just an instrument. I do believe I am in the flow.

Obviously I use layers of paint both thick and thin, building texture and depth, a characteristic color palette that I enjoy, a linear emphasis, a roundness in some area, darks against lights and lights against darks. I am working vertically right now, but it started out being horizontal; I work all around it, turning it in all orientations as I paint, because in abstract art you have to do that. You might choose to see the suggestion of a landscape, or not. Purely abstract is fine too.

This painting could quite easily go in the direction of enormous simplicity and minimalism, by covering up almost 90% of the composition with washes of gray, black or even white, allowing just slivers and shafts of colors to reveal themselves as if you are looking through an opening to something underneath. That seems to me a rather easy, chicken way to end the whole thing.

I actually prefer the challenge of complexity, depth and mystery. But you probably already knew that by now.






The Wisdom of the Ages


Photo #1 courtesy of   Photo #2 courtesy of   Photo #3 courtesy of

I taught mixed media collage for three years in Lincoln, California, and one of the things I always said to my class was that the first people to ever use the technique of adding texture and three-dimensionality to art were  cavemen and cavewomen. (I am assuming women also contributed to the ancient art on the rock walls inside caves.) Recently new evidence of those artistic mixed media roots has been found in caves.

In the introduction to my mixed media collage class I said this, “Abandon your pre-conceived notions about traditional fine art and begin a mixed media journey where improvisation, freedom from boundaries, self-discovery and originality are valued higher than any predictable destination.” Mixed media painting is a highly improvisational and innovative type of art – a “fly by the seat of your pants” (or paints) type of art. It is pretty much balls to the wall – gaining new ideas as you go and incorporating them into your fast moving composition. It is using what you have at hand and making the most of the world’s simplest gifts.

Texture, pattern and color are the dance. Any degree of sculptural relief – where the painting’s texture comes up off the background in a tactile kind of effect – is much to be desired. Collage papers are welcome; as is any other kind of found object that might add fascination and special interest to the image. There is no order of things – you can start with paint or papers or your collection of found objects. This is Art with Abandon! It is the ultimate art in recycling, using old bits and pieces of things to create fresh, new fine art suitable for framing.

This is not a new idea; people have been doing it for years – for eons of time. The very first cave artists who would now be classified as a mixed media artists were the inspired ones who first drew an image of an animal of some species and then – OMG – then glued some dried grass and other found bits of twigs and earth under the image with wet mud, creating a realistic, three-dimensional mixed media collage scene. Recently they have found just such images – more than one – to prove the extraordinary artistic vision of these very primitive people. Artists also utilized the rough surface and particular colorations of the rock wall itself by choosing to draw on specific locations that brilliantly enhanced their images in both 3-D contour and color. These people were very sophisticated in their artistic talent…very discriminating and wise in their choices.

Can you imagine the cave  mom, as she roasts a hunk of antelope over the fire while being pestered by her hungry family, saying, “Get some charcoal and go draw me a picture on the wall – dinner will be ready soon – now go!” And one person, perhaps just one at first, grabs some grass and a handful of earth and pebbles, then using wet mud left by the rain he/she pastes it under the animals, and in doing so positions his animals in a realistic landscape. Suddenly we have an entirely new artistic concept. Can you imagine how thrilled he/she must have been with that gesture? It gives me chills to think about it.

Many locations around the world have also revealed handprints – hundreds of them. Plentiful and childlike, colorful and animated and most definitely a playful way of passing leisure time and leaving your signature. Children all over the world both in and out of art class do the same today with finger paints, clay, concrete or even mud.

It seems that the more things change the more they stay the same. Art has always been universally appealing and it speaks the language of the ages. Put yourself inside a cave on a rainy day and what are you going to do? Well, paint of course! Or in the evening, by the glow of the fire, waiting for bedtime….you paint about what you saw during the day. The level of detail, the intensity of the hunting scenes – it is just fascinating to observe in the primitive cave art from all over the globe. And if you choose to zero in on the cave art that depicts extra-terrestrial art showing weird Martian-type creatures and what look like space ships, then you will be off and running in an entirely different direction! It does make one wonder, does it not?