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I know  that asking what you were doing while on vacation is a common question, but this time, I decided to try to show one tiny part of it in a new painting series I’m christening “The Water Series”.  While snorkeling with at Sandy Cay in the Bahamas, a photograph  I took of my husband snorkeling opened up a whole slew of new ideas on how to create the moment in Batik.  I would like to show how over the next few writings I created a new wall hanging that is still in process.  The first photo I am showing is the cool picture I took of Gill in the water snorkeling.  I liked the reptilian patterning on his arm and the way the light reflected on the surface of the bright turquoise water.  I took the photograph that I liked so much, and converted it into a line drawing in Photoshop.  I then blew up the black and white image to the size I wanted to create the painting, and proceeded to draw it on to a large piece of beautiful white upholstery grade silk that I had acquired  last year.  (Oh thank heaven for yard sales).  Then I began my wax and dying process.


Gill snorkeling in the Abacos

The photo that started a new series



The line drawing from the photo

The base layer for the new batik



Tucanos Tikal

Last November, my husband Gill and I traveled to Belize and Guatemala for a vacation.  As a part of this trip, we wanted to revist the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, a place we had stopped at the previous winter.  This time we stayed on the national park grounds for two nights at the Jungle Lodge.  It was a great experience and we hope to do it again.  As a part of that stay, we took a sunrise tour with a guide who grew up on the site while his father worked as an archaeologist.  We woke up at 4:30 am and hiked onto the temple grounds by the light of a flashlight, drinking in the sounds of Howler monkeys and birdsong.  It was really impressive seeing the sun begin to rise behind the pyramids, especially so when we hiked to the top of Temple Four to watch the sun try to breakout from behind the clouds.    The whole experience gave me inspiration for some new art images.

The one I am featuring here is based on the scenes of two Fiery Billed  Aracaris (members of the Toucan family) feasting on the berries of the Christmas Palms that were growing outside our room.  They were a riot to watch, peeling the outer skins off the seeds and throwing the pits to the ground one after an another.  They were joined by some Keel Billed Toucans, so there were numerous squabbles over who would get the fruit.  I shot dozens of photographs, and chose one of these images for this painting.  I am also featuring some  works in progress images so that you can see the start to finish of this 40″ x 30″ painting.

Close-up of batik

Close-up view of Tucanos Tikal in progress

phot of new batik in progress

A view of the batik after the early stages of waxing and dyeing

2Toucans in Christmas Palms

A Final Conclusion

Vote Yes! for Harness Racing"

I finally figured out how to photograph this new addition to the family.   After 2 years of trying to come to an end, I finally did it!.  Now I am trying to figure out how to carry this idea forward for future images in this format.  See what you think and let me know.  I am titling the image: “Vote Yes! For Harness Racing!”

The Seminole Kimono

Friday, I picked up my new painting from the tailor, with the “Sleeves” and center panel sewn into place and ready for hanging.  It came out great, and looks better in some ways than I imagined.  The problem now is trying to hang it to photograph.  The sleeves and folds makes it an awkward shape, long in a horizontal format, and not wide: 36″ tall by 72″ wide.  I shot one set of images, but am going to try again.  It is very different from the other pieces I have put together…

After I finally flushed out my ideas for reworking one of my banners, I took it over to a drapery company that I am presently working with to see if I could get the base pattern done.  I left the wall hanging, the fabric pieces, and my paper doll mock-up with them so that they would have something to work from.  two weeks later, I picked up the fabricated “sleeves” to my piece.  The next challenge was to draw and mimic the Seminole style patchwork onto the sleeves so that I can wax and dye them.  I was still having issues with which patterns and colors I wanted to use.  I consulted several history books featuring 1920’s vintage Seminole patchwork.  After re-drawing and washing the “sleeves” a few times, I think I have what I want to work with, and started the wax and dye process.  Who ever said that this project was going to be easy?

I am always happy to see “the season” (the three month period when the Naples Florida art and social world goes crazy) come and then go. I almost get nothing done in the way of artwork during that time.  I was pleased with my gallery exhibition at the ArtLab.  I did manage to create two pieces for the” Have A Seat III” event at the Friends of Art  Naples Museum of Art event.  I also was busy with displaying at the 25th Annual SW Florida Craft Guild’s Exhibit of Excellence at BIG Arts on Sanibel Island.  There I won a Merit award for one of my pieces from the February show: Hava Tampa Spirit.  The reception was well attended, but most of the time, I have been doing a lot of thinking.  After seeing one of my pieces hanging in my February show, I decided that I was not happy with the final format of the layout, and I felt that I wasn’t doing well in expressing my feelings for the images that I was working with.  After I had a critique with Barbara Hill, my art advisor,  I decided to take one of the pieces from the February show apart, and try to rework it into a more cohesive image.  This took a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth, but I finally came up with a workable plan to create a Seminole style Kimono image that would hang on a banner.  I worked out this image by making little paper dolls of layouts, photographing them, and seeing how they looked together.  I have sent the fabric off to be re-sewn into the sleeves and shaping of what I want.  We’ll see where I go from here.

February is always a busy time around Naples.  It is the height of “The Season”, which means every week there are at least three if not more events going on around town.  The third week of February, I had the opening of my show at FGCU; A demo on Third Street in Old Naples during the “Third on Canvas” event, and a Saturday demonstration for the Southwest Florida Craft Guild.  I had started planning for all of this the summer before, so I wasn’t completely overwhelmed, but overall, it was still a lot of work!.  By the time Sunday rolled around, I was spent.  When I had any free time in December and January, I had created images that I wanted to batik on to scarves for a March event: “Have a Seat III”, at the Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art.  These were developed from photographs I had taken the previous summer, edited in Photoshop, and then redrawn with a charcoal pencil on to each scarf.  I also had to pack up a box that contained my demonstration supplies: bees wax, soy wax, Tjantings, bamboo brushes, stretcher bars, silk tacks,and dyes in jars ready to go.  A lot of stuff to haul around (Did I not mention the standing easel and two framed paintings to display while I worked?)  A small crowd gathered around me during the cold non-Florida day when I was working outside in front of Gattles on Third Street.  Many of the people were my fans, or knew of batik, which made me really happy.  The next day, after the dyes had dried, I continued to work on the paintings as a demo for the Southwest Florida Craft Guild, an organization of which I have been a member for over 15 years.

Applying soy wax with Tjanting tool to painting

Muffy Clark Gill showing innitial drawing on fabric for batik painting

Close-up of Wounded Warrior III in progress

Batik painting using soy wax of Old San Juan

Calle de La Cruz

A few years ago, an article appeared in the Fall 2007 edition of The Surface Design Journal about artist Betsy Benjamin and her use of Soy wax in creating batik images. I read the story and put it aside, thinking that I would like to try it sometime.  The opportunity arouse this last fall when I received some soy wax in an order from Dharma Trading Company, my dye supplier. I wanted to experiment with this wax, as I was seeking greener alternatives to mixing my beeswax with paraffin wax.   I tried using the wax in several different projects, the first was with the “Seated in Silence” painting.  I liked the results and kept on going.  In this situation, the soy wax was mixed with the beeswax, so that I would have a wax that was not too runny, and would harden faster.  I tried it again with another painting of a downtown street in Old San Juan:”Calle de La Cruse”.The sky and other ares of solid color did not flex well, and tended to break and create more crackle than I was used to, but I liked the final results anyway.

FGCU ArtLab Reception 2.18.10

Feb. 18, 2010.  I have been behind in writing, as I have been busy preparing all of my paintings for the show that debuted last Thursday at the FGCU ArtLab.  This show  is titled: “Dying Arts: Batiks and Silk Works by Muffy Clark Gill and Nuch Owen” has been a labor of love for over a year since interim Curator Anica Sturdivant asked me to participate .  I met Thai artist Nuch Owen many years ago when she first came to the Naples area.  Her skill in painting on silk using Gutta resist is unbelievable, and very intricate. I enjoy her work and respect the talent that goes into creating it.   I brought 8 paintings to the show including “Seated in Silence”;” Hava Tampa Spirit”, and two of my pieces from the FGCU Steamroller project.  WGCU Public Media hosted the reception as a member event, and over 60 people showed up(there were RSVP’s for 107, and it was hard to track a true total).  Quite a few for a intimate gallery setting on the University campus.I really enjoyed talking to the students who were asked to do a report on the exhibition.    The show also featured the debut of my new silk hanging: “Influence”.  I have a web page of the show here:

The show  was part of a busy week that included a talk about how I use my Mac computer with my artwork, and two Batik demonstrations in the Southwest Florida area, along with the opening reception  February 12th for the 7th Biennial National Art Exhibition at the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda.  The “Hava Tampa” painting was one of the 138 entries accepted from over 720 submissions.  By the time Sunday night came, I was worn out!

Creative Recycling

Seated in Silence

When I finished the Steamroller Project, I discovered that there was a large measure of left over scraps of archival quality printing paper-the remnants from when the printed images had been  from the master roll .  I have always been a waste-not, want not kind of person(my brother and I used to create usable bicycles from cast-offs when I was little). I debated on what would be the best way to recycle this resource?  I then took these strips and tore them into smaller, narrower pieces, approximately 4 inches wide by about 36 inches long.  I  wove the strips together to form a new piece of paper,  and then the challenge began…How do I hold the pieces together to create a new image?  After a lot of gritting and gnashing of teeth, I finally ended up having to place a droplet of glue at the intersection of each strip.  It was very tiresome and time-consuming work.  When all was ready, I returned to the base image of my “Hava Tampa” painting.  I  still liked the image of the three Seminole women, so I took the seated women figures and blew them up to fit in the new paper space that I had created.  I then drew the outlines of the figures and the details using soy wax , which I had never worked with before. This was followed by painting the dyes directly on to the paper, and  waxing over some of the areas that I did not want the dye to bleed together.When the piece was all dyed and stained, I ironed out as much of the soy wax as I could before it was mounted.