r e s o n a n c e

a minimal, black & white abstract art series created from handcrafted black ink

“The sound was rich, wild and resonant.”

This line from Hazel Prior’s novel Ellie and the Harp Maker sparked in me an entire series of paintings.

The rich part of this series is the black ink that I handcrafted from creating my own lampblack. Lampblack is a black pigment made from soot. Using this black pigment, I composed a recipe to form a rich, black archival ink that is a delight to watch flow across the page.

The “resonance” series is built around the concept of resonance.

lexico.com defines resonance as:

  • The quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating.
  • The power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions.

“The sound was rich, wild and resonant” resonated or struck a chord with me because sound and music is such an integral part of my process. I listen to “flowing” music that reminds me of water as I spread the ink on the paper. Fluidity of my mind and body is essential to ensuring that the thread that I lay down doesn’t appear jagged. When I add in the many tiny marks, I listen to folk music and add the marks to the beat of the songs. This helps me to enjoy the tedious task and, in a way, become a part of the rhythm of the painting.

I also resonate with the wild aspect of this line from Prior’s novel. Being outside in the wild completes my soul. Another line from Ellie and the Harp Maker that I resonated with is: “A walk in the wilds is what I need.” It is as though the “wild” speaks to me through the sound of the wind through the trees saying: “you are complete.” So much so, that my paintings reflect the wilds around my studio. As I lay down the ink, I envision the rolling hills and the trees that dot the horizon as marks on the page. The lines of thread are the paths I take through the hills and forests as I resonate in the wild.

It is my hope that this new series that I have entitled RESONANCE urges you to quietly reflect on “small truths”:

“The kinds of truth that art gives us many, many times are small truths. They don’t have the resonance of an encyclical from the Pope stating an eternal truth, but they partake of the quality of eternity. There is a sort of timeless delight in them.” -Seamus Heaney

May this artwork compel you to “partake of the quality of eternity.” May it help to quench that space in our souls that can’t be captured, like a glorious yet fleeting sunset. May it help you capture that magical emotion that we wish to enclose with our hands and hide in our hearts. And may you be inspired to discover the wilds of your world.

The “resonance” series will be released in my Etsy shop Wednesday, May 27 at 12 pm EST. Use the coupon code RESONANCE to receive a 10% discount.

How to Paint with Natural Inks: Part 1

A few tips on painting with natural inks.

First of all, in my mind, there is no right or wrong way to paint with natural inks. I have developed a system that works for me, that I will share, but I also look forward to hearing how others approach painting with inks.

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Tools:
-music
-watercolour paper
-bottle caps, lids or watercolour palette
-jar of water
-rag
-spray bottle
-palette knife
-2 eye droppers (one for water and one for the ink)
-a few paint brushes (I like an angle brush for applying ink)
-rocks (to weigh the paper down)

The first thing is to “set the mood”. Not to get too “woo” on you, but choosing music that puts you into a “flow” state will help your hands work with the fluidity of the inks.
Pour a small amount of your ink (you can always add more) into a bottle cap, lid or watercolour palette. Have a bottle of water on hand and a rag to dry off your brush.
Depending on the style of art that you hope to paint, will also determine how you apply the inks. If you are creating realistic and detailed art, then adding water may not be necessary at all. I work in an abstract style that embraces the movement of liquids, so adding water is an integral part of my process.

I usually begin by spraying or dropping water in a few places on my watercolour paper and then use my palette knife or my fingers to spread the water around. I love to create magical moments by using an eye dropper to drop the ink onto the water and watch it travel into and along the water trails. I take a rather intuitive approach and use either my palette knife, paint brush or fingers to spread the ink or help the ink along on its journey with the water.

If I am trying to create a more solid or intense colour, I use an eye dropper or paint brush and directly apply the ink to the watercolour paper.

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I also like to use rocks not only for colour inspiration and as a way to “ground” my thoughts in natural objects, but also as paper weights. The more water that I add to the paper, the more that the watercolour paper will buckle. I place rocks on the paper to counteract the buckling. This way, I don’t bother with painting tape and the risk of ripping my painting. Once the painting is completely dry, I will flip over the painting, spray a bit of water on the backside, iron it flat and then quickly place it under heavy books to flatten it.

Note: If you are dipping your paint brush directly into the ink bottle, be sure to wash your brush out before dipping it into another ink. Simply dip your brush into your jar of water and then dry it on your rag. When you are finished painting, you can wash out your paint brushes with a little bit of dish soap.

Those are a few of my methods of working with natural inks. Do you have any tips for painting with natural inks?

How to Make Avocado Ink

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When an artist friend showed me her avocado ink painting a year ago, my artistic life was absolutely transformed!  Avocados play a major role in our home.  I have avocados in my morning smoothie, my lunchtime sandwich and we have guacamole once a week for Taco Tuesday! I have an abundance of empty shells and stones (pits) so I am constantly creating new ink for my paintings. Creating avocado ink is very simple and I often create a batch as I am preparing meals or cleaning the kitchen.

46011098_1212020345634734_7913503016978743296_nSupplies:

large cooking pot
large spoon
water
avocado stones and empty shells (the more stones and shells, the stronger the colour)
fine mesh strainer
small paper samples
whole cloves
mason jar with lid

Preparation:

Scrub all the green avocado remains off the stones and shells (I find that using my finger nails works the best).

Fill your pot with all of your cleaned stones and shells and then cover with water.

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Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. After about 20-40 minutes, the water will begin to change colour from clear to pink to a reddish brown. I like to stir the contents occasionally. The skins will begin to come off the stones.

Use a tiny piece of paper to test the colour and when you are satisfied, strain your ink with a fine mesh strainer.  Inevitably bits of shell will make its way into your ink, but I love the texture and authenticity that it provides in my paintings.

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I store my ink in mason jars in the fridge and you can also help preserve the ink by adding a clove to the sealed jar.

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Each batch that you make will produce a slightly different shade of pink depending on how many stones and shells that you use. Have fun experimenting and be sure to label each batch with a colour sample and date. Try a batch with just one stone and shell, or just stones, or adding less water or simmering for different lengths of time. You can also freeze the stones and shells if you aren’t able to make the ink right away.

Have fun creating your own ink!

 

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The Handmade Pop Up – Canadian Style

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Sam and Grace of Maker’s Movement and CYL Collective have joined forces for The Handmade Pop-Up, an online market featuring handcrafted goods from artists and artisans around the world.

Canada has been well represented and I have highlighted a few talented creatives!

Sara Clark ( @shopsarahclark )

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Sara Clark is a multidisciplinary maker living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. All pieces are crafted by Sara in her home workshop or studio.

Marrying materials such as wood, natural fibers and resin, she creates unique designs for the body and the home with an emphasis on neutral colours and clean lines. Sara’s work is currently focused on creating contemporary designs influenced by simple, primitive art.  A portion of all online sales are donated to local organizations committed to the safety of and empowerment of women.

http://www.shopsaraclark.com/

White River Company ( @ whiterivercompany

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White River Company is an Ontario based print shop.

From beautiful prints to decorate your walls or greeting cards for any occasion, our mission is to make beautiful pieces that elevate any home. We love simple clean imagery that supports positivity and nature, whether that’s through an original painting or captured in a simple illustration.  All products are designed and printed in Canada.

https://www.whiteriverco.com/

Ayu Larasati Ceramics ( @alarasati )

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(This was a collaboration piece with Charissa Rais, a graphic designer who hand-painted the plate @aceramics_ )

Ayu Larasati was born in Indonesia and moved to Toronto to earn her bachelor degree from Industrial Design program in OCAD University. She was holding her full-time job as a product designer when she found herself continually making ceramic and fell completely in love with the material. She established her ceramic studio in late 2014. She is back recently in Toronto after residing in Indonesia for two years. Making ceramics has served her as an experience where she can push a reset button, recharged and coming back to herself. She feels that there is nothing more joyful and rewarding than to see her creation being enjoyed and out in the world.

http://ayularasaticeramics.com/

Meg Does Pottery ( @megdoespottery )

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Meg Does Pottery is a Winnipeg based luxury line of handbuilt and wheel thrown pottery.  These items are intended to add interest or that special oooh la la to your favourite spaces.

https://www.megdoespottery.com/

The online market ends May 15th so be sure to head on over, where you can check out my “Circle” series and receive 10% off with DISCOUNT CODE HAPPYSPRING17 .

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What is your spring decorating style?

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Etsy Canada and House & Home have joined forces to create a quiz to help you determine your decorating style this spring.  The quiz is filled with gorgeous handmade and vintage items, all from Etsy Canada. And even better, when you complete the quiz you could win a $500 Etsy gift card. Plus, be sure to watch the video featuring three stylish looks for spring (including my “ring around the rosy” abstract painting). Contest open to residents of Canada only, excluding Quebec. Contest closes June 6, 2017.

1000 followers on Instagram Art Giveaway!

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So big news in my world…I reached 1000 followers on my Instagram account!  I know to many of you, that seems so minimal (but hey, I am on a bit of a minimal art kick right now, so it works for me) but the IG community has been so powerful for me.  Why, you ask? Well here is a bit about me that might give you a few clues:

I have struggled with Lyme Disease and a few nasty co-infections for about 3 years, and before that a minor bout with non-invasive breast cancer. This has caused lots of havoc in my body and my mental health, so most days I really don’t like to leave my house.  I have a few really good friends in the “real world” who I try and make an effort to visit and laugh with as energy allows, but the IG community has also been an integral part of my life in the last year or so.  It has been a daily boost to my creative spirit,  an immense support as I strive to sell my art and an encouragement to see that others can “push through” their challenges with kindness and grace.

So head on over to my Instagram account @melissamaryjenkinsart and follow the Giveaway Guidelines where you can win this “stripy” painting and one for a friend!

Etsy Awards

Etsy Canada has disclosed the finalists for the Etsy Awards and guess what?  My shop has been chosen as one of 60 finalists under the Art & Illustration and Paper Goods Category!!!!

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Voting is now open at etsyawards.com/ca, and I am personally inviting you to VOTE for my shop in the Community’s Choice Award. You have until June 6 and you only have one vote to use.

A Conspiracy of Love – Holiday Craft Market at the Noodle in the Alton Mill

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“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” – Hamilton Wright Mable

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November, 13th – January 3rd:  Join us this holiday season at Noodle Gallery for a selection of unique, whimsical and imaginative gift giving.

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A number of local participating artists, fine crafters and authors; Cheryll Collins Designs, Josephine Condotta, Melissa Mary Jenkins, kukucaju, John Leenders, Peyton Leung, Katie McLellan, Nicola Ross, Keri Rounding, and Stone Cottage Industry.  Find inspiring gifts for all your loved ones and we bet you’ll even be tempted to pick out something for yourself!

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Selling Your Art Online: All about the Story

"pink dreams" in the "view of a mermaid" series
“pink dreams” in the “view of a mermaid” series

For the last two months I have been actively researching how to sell my art online, by listening to pod casts and reading blog posts and articles. The most helpful site by far is the Abundant Artist. http://theabundantartist.com/

I have been listening to success stories from various artists while painting, and my mind has been fascinated, sometimes overwhelmed and yet, incredibly excited. These successful artists are experts at telling the story behind their art.  Here is a quote from Lisa Baum in her post entitled “Selling the Experience: Telling the Story of Your Art”

“Whether we like it or not, we’re not rational creatures. We’re emotional, and when an artist touches our raw emotion, by bringing out our shared deeper experience through storytelling, that artist makes a lasting impression.”

http://theabundantartist.com/selling-experience-story-your-art/

October 20 I sat down to check my messages and the most thrilling message came in from Etsy. One of my paintings had been featured on the Etsy Finds newsletter!  My shop literally exploded with views and purchases!  I went from 300 views to my shop for the month of September, to over 8ooo views in the last seven days!!!

“whimsy and understanding”

But even though that day was probably the most rewarding day in my artistic “career”, especially after the time and energy I poured into revamping my social media presence, even more meaningful was what my customers taught me. Two women, in particular took the time to tell me that the paintings they chose to buy “spoke” to them in powerful ways.  With their permission I would like to share these lovely sentiments.

“Hi Melissa, I really love your art piece ice cream dreams and look forward to seeing it hang in my living room. My husband is dying now and it seems an affirmation of all he was and all our relationship was when it was good. Thank you for making this beautiful piece which resonates so close to my heart.”

"ice cream dreams"
“ice cream dreams”

This precious lady reminded me of the power that art has to describe emotions and experiences that go beyond words. My goal as an artist is to provide artwork that “touches the soul” and this message verified that I am on the right path.

And this one from Janet at https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/FeltOnTheFly

“I often look for original art on Etsy, but have never purchased. This morning, I opened my e-mail from Etsy, saw your painting, and instantly loved it. Yes, it would be fair to say, ‘it spoke to me’! I always like to know what people ‘read’ in art. I like to know what people see, and how they interpret. Perhaps you’d like to know how your painting spoke to me…. I love water. I crave water. I love the color of water. I dream of someday (hopefully sooner than later at this point in my life!) living on a small quiet lake. When I looked at your painting, I felt as though I was *in* the water, floating underneath the surface and looking up. I saw flowers floating on the surface, and I saw hazy rays of sunshine coming through the water. Surely, it’s the view of a mermaid “.

Now the crazy thing is, Janet actually put into words exactly what I have been dreaming of capturing for years. It is no exaggeration for me to say that “Water” is my solace, my retreat and my “soul”. My favourite thing to do in the summer is to go under the water and look up at the sun, and I have always dreamed of being able to paint that experience. In fact, my daughters and I spend many a day taking underwater photos to try and capture the moment.

“view of a mermaid”

I had no idea that the “view of a mermaid” series (many thanks to Janet for the name) that Janet bought, which coincidentally are the paintings that I feel most “alive” painting, had in fact captured my vision of the sky underwater. When I paint the “views of a mermaid” series, it is like I have finally come “home”; like all the stars have aligned and I have found my “artistic voice”.

As I sink back into the reality that I would like to be selling more artwork, and diligently learning how to do that, I feel such gratitude to these two women who reminded me that this is all worth it.

“the joy of pink”

Snowberry Botanicals

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I am so very thrilled to announce that Melissa Mary Jenkins Artwork is now for sale at Snowberry Botanicals, a most delightful local floral shop which offers floral design, rentals and full service styling and planning.

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The space is absolutely gorgeous with an industrial “feel”, large windows and glorious light!

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Snowberry Botanicals has been integral in inspiring my floral artwork. The moment that you walk through the doors, you are amazed by the space, the creativity oozing from the various vignettes and most importantly, the friendly and vibrant vibe that both Krystal and Sarah fill the space with.

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I continue to be inspired by the plants that I have purchased and the photos these lovely ladies post on social media.

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To top it all off, my little ones “really” enjoy forming their own cactus creations from the famous “cactus bar”!P1290381

If you live in the Erin area, drop in to say hi to Krystal and Sarah and be prepared to be inspired! If you would like more information on their services and/or follow them on social media, please visit their website.

http://www.snowberrybotanicals.com/