Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Fantasy" Based on Reality?


I am putting this image back up because I just had an "A-hah!" about how I created the movement of lines. This most recent of my oils was painted while I was battling a baffling combination of illnesses. Needless to say, my mind was not completely present to the needs of the painting. I was almost on automatic pilot, sorting out color puzzles and tonal questions, but not addressing content to any real depth. There's clearly a message here, but I was mostly just concerned about wanting the piece to emerge away from the raw sense of despair that it had had when I first began creating it. (That bottom area of the painting had originally been quite brutal!) When the painting claimed itself finished I stared at it as if it were a stranger, wired the back, and hung it on the wall in preparation for the next surge of visitors to the studio.

This work received a lot of attention from the incoming crowds. There was a lot of speculation about what was what, and parents enjoyed explaining to their children the images and stories they saw in the piece. The feel of inflowing lines intrigued a few and one person wondered where the idea to paint that movement came from. At the time I just shrugged, having no clear idea. This morning I found the answer.

Every morning for the past two years I've walked for about an hour, usually to the top of a steep hill. While I was ill I couldn't make it up to the crest, but today I managed the full hike again.

This walk is vigorous, and gets the blood surging. I'd been in a habit of reaching the top, stopping and turning my face immediately to the sun, and shutting my eyes. I had noticed that if I looked at what I saw inside my eyes at that moment (the expected red and yellow colors) I'd also see a lot of movement. I have no idea if its blood surging or eyes focusing or what, but it's fascinating to experience. The movement tends to start at the center of my vision arena and move with flowing motion towards the outer sides. There'd be a pause, and then the colored movement would immediately surge quickly back inward towards the center. Soon the movement would slow down and freeze into normal static color patterns. This approximately 8 second sensation is a bizarre thing to experience so I had my husband try it out to make sure it was a common biological phenomena. He made sure to climb the hill energetically before he stopped and, with his eyes closed, stared at the sun. He had the same experience as me.

After doing this hike and tiny meditation this morning for the first time in months I had my "A-hah!" I saw that there were also little spots of color and light that twinkled through the red and yellow as it moved, and here is where I recognized the basis for the imagery in the above painting.

Funny how one can create something and not really know the foundation until much later. If we keep looking at this world, we will see so much. What we learn bubbles up sooner or later, and sometimes it arrives without our being fully aware of where we'd originally taken the information in.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Variety in Work and in Audience

When one creates from a place of individual truth there is a chance that the product will reach a small audience, but not necessarily that of the broad populace.

Visitors to my studio often wonder if more than one artist has created the work on the walls, since my truths have traveled all over the spectrum ~ from representation to abstract, line to color, tiny to quite large, and from the dark side of life to the giddy silliness of life. I am always fascinated to see to which artistic representation of my truths each individual visitor will respond. The general rule is that the many visitors seem to gravitate to just as many different pieces. Below is a selection of the favorite pieces from a recent open studio. Each inspired dynamic conversations between myself and the viewer, or between the visiting couples/groups amongst themselves.

(All of the pieces now have new homes.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Grounded Inspiration From Within a Chaotic Piece

"Riding Chaos" clearly represents the craziness of the human experience, but is actually grounded in elemental nature. Prior to this work I had spent a lot of time looking underneath shrubbery, into grassy vegetation, through the branches of trees, and on up into the amazingly contrasting blue of the sky. I am fascinated by how organisms shift and bump up against one another, die off, and are reborn.

Originally there was little water in this piece, but bit by bit the blue dropped from the sky, transforming land into lake or sea. Water is a profound symbol of both biological life and powerful grounding (being that life does not exist without water and that condensed water always filters down to the lowest gravitational level.) Consciously or unconsciously knowing this, the viewer perceives the water and is soothed even while viewing the frenetic energy of this chaotic painting.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Inspired by Mistakes

In my work of the past couple of years I have been studying the "fool" and the "Fool," agreeing with Shakespeare that the latter is an enlightened former.  Just now I've come upon a reference to this in "Being Wrong" by Kathryn Schulz. She describes how there is an optimistic model of wrongness whereby one who dives into a foolish endeavor (a mistake) might come out all the wiser in the end. In her words "...erring is vital to any process of invention and creation."

While Schulz is referring to mistakes/learning in every walk of life, I find this model of thinking points directly to the center of quality art. I have always been of the opinion that perfection must include a flaw in order for it to be believable. We flawed humans need to see this flaw of humanity in art if we are to relate with any sense of depth, and true perfection has immense depth.

Striving to create art forms depicting human perfection is a valiant ideal held by most artists. Only a lucky few are able to achieve this goal, and we viewers are lucky indeed to benefit from experiencing these master works of perception and execution. I see these master works in museums, occasionally in galleries and homes, and delightfully and surprisingly, in the instinctive work of very young children.

It takes a bold mind (or is it a fool's mind?) to break honored rules of conduct in order to open up inspiringly fresh and profound worlds of discovery. Many times I have advised myself and others: "use your mistakes ~ you might find yourself in a far more interesting world of thought." It's a messy existence, trusting mistakes to lead one out of the haze-maze towards a hopeful clarity, but oh so deliciously alive is the process.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Unfolding Bouquet"

This is the recently finished painting that had kids of all ages
pointing and guessing, fully engaged. 5' x 3'

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ins and Outs

I haven't been "in" this blog space lately. I've been too distracted by working on two paintings. One is 5' by 3' and is a large abstract/cartoon bouquet of life that seems to attract the attention of the miniature people who run past my studio door every day. There is nothing more sweet than strange 4 or 5-year-olds stopping in their active-leg tracks to stare at my painting and gasp out, "That's so pretty!" Mind you, it's NOT a pretty painting to the eyes of the adults, but those little minds, they totally rock with it's off the wall naive energy.

The other painting is about half that size and within its imagery are large enveloping wings and a lot of gold light. This one attracts the more exotic larger people who run past my studio door. Two days ago an art therapist stopped to gaze for a bit. He commented that in his work the clients often didn't know what they were painting about, but he could lead them towards defining reasons behind why they had created the symbols on their art. I invited him to interpret my painting, but he just gazed at it quietly. A second viewer said he didn't know if it was a positive or a negative painting since parts of it felt like Hell. Is it possible to paint Hell into a positive message? Interesting question.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Unexpected Gifts

In just over a week I have had three separate art surprises.

Today I found myself included in a magazine article about my art studio complex. There I am in a photo, framed by an old ladder, drawing away with a hodge podge of my paintings decorating the distant studio walls. One can almost see that I'm wearing two pairs of glasses to do my tiny ink work. The drawing I was creating at the time is in my August 16 post.

Sept. 10 was the reception for the group exhibition "Aftermath" at Coastal Arts League and Museum. I have two pieces in the show, one a painting and the other a pen and ink canvas. It was gratifying to see so many people stand for so long in front of "Confronting Brown," seen here, below. Small photos don't do it justice, since the point of the painting is to pull the viewer closer and closer into the middle of the painting and then upward and outward. I like to stand about one foot away and wander my eye all over the place. Click on the image and you might get an idea of what it would be like to stand next to this 5 foot long piece. I have no problem saying that I am amazed that I made this intricate work. It resonates on a level I always strive for, but rarely am lucky enough to accomplish. I am therefore profoundly pleased when I see a diverse audience immediately in deep conversation with this piece.

The third surprise news is that an artist and friend, Lisa Brey, submitted one of my paintings she owns to the Hyampom Good Time Fair's art exhibition and I received the People's Choice Award. I was told everyone in the audience cheered when they heard my piece had won. Since I grew up in a then very wild country community of Big Sur, I was deeply gratified by this similarly wild community's applause.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Playing Around

In the past I've done a "Tree of Life" 
so I'll call this one "Vegetable of Life"

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Food for Survival

"Fruit Tree Weathers a Storm"

Friday, August 26, 2011

Simple Design

"Pearl Bouquet"
For those who crave insight.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Speedy Recovery

This speeding recovery cocoon is for all hurting people, 
especially those with 9 days or longer of constant pain.

(It's called "Speed Boats" because I couldn't help but acknowledge 
the clouds that also seem to be speeding away.)


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Choreographer

Dancing to the Music.

Gift from a Chicken

"Wishbone Bouquet"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Subtle Influences

Paddle to Wonderment

Yesterday a photographer happened by when I was working, noting that I painted in the doorway of my studio. She took a few back shots of me and moved on. Later, when I was drawing inside at my work table, she wandered by again. We discussed the fact that when I worked in the doorway pint-sized critics enjoyed stopping to see what I was doing and to make comments. She asked if these people influenced my work. Above is the drawing that I was creating as she talked and took photos of the interior of the studio. When she asked if I was influenced I had just begun to draw the hand, the rounded forms above already in place. I laughed and said, "Of course. I'm influenced by everything. Life!"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hopeful Symbol Borrowed from the Greeks


I have been asked to place images in an art catalogue designed around the theme of the aftermath of 9/11: How has one's art been influenced in the ten years following this horrendous event?

My daughter had just entered 6th grade when the Twin Towers came down. "Revelation" was painted in 2008, the last year of my daughter's youth. At the time of this painting I was designing a set for the high school's theatrical performance of "West Side Story" and could relate profoundly to the message of bleakness and helpless despair for the future of the world's youth.

The Greeks used the triangle, mounted on the tops of their great buildings, to symbolize hope. Here I have placed this same symbol within the nest of our grieving country.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Fool's Bouquet

Wake Up Call

Every now and then we get a bit of a shock.
I recently caught a chicken bug.
World be warned: chicken bugs and mankind to not mix well.
Itty bitty chicken bugs like to live in itty bitty drops of chicken juice.
Even the tiniest drop is an attack jet for the little critters.

One of those dive bombers hit me hard and fast.
I did mighty battle with the tiny bug and learned this:
Illness and stress don't mix.
Bugs love stress! They are fortified by stress!
Party time in De Stress Lounge!

Doctor's orders: Lose the stress!
So that is what I've been up to.
Learning how to lose stress.
I'm learning all about vitamins and breathing.
Beats not breathing.

It seems to be working.
For one, I'm not worried about how the painting I've been working on will turn out.
I already have a bunch of pint-sized critics telling me it is "way cool!"
So what that they think the nun is a walrus...
Maybe nuns do look like walruses!
I'm supposed to make friends with my inner child.
Seems like I am on track...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sweet Family

A tribute drawing to the enduring quality
of familial love during stressful times.

This references a family of friends
just as much as that of blood relatives.
The bond of caring for others
while one is in pain oneself
is immensely strengthening.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Seeing Bliss in Simplicity

Holiday at the Beach

A few of my early ancestors landed in America in 1712 and founded, with others, a town called Paradise in Pennsylvania. They lived in log houses with straw roofs.

As a child I lived in a tiny country cabin (5 people, one bedroom), and I called my home "paradise" as well. It helped that nature surrounded us on almost all sides. We rarely played in doors, except to draw.

Then I grew up and I now see that others feel my old home is paradise... a holiday paradise. These people rent the cabin for a weekend and come back year after year. It feels good to think of all the children who are looking at the knotholes on the wood walls of my old bedroom and maybe seeing the fairies and goblins that I saw as a child. I wonder if the crayon markings are still on the walls...

The holiday scene above depicts the nearby town where I went to high school.

Friday, August 5, 2011

When in Doubt Go...

Fish Dreaming
Painting can be a very heavy, heady work experience, full of endless puzzles to solve and errors to find hidden treasure within. In other words, it can be exhausting.

Drawing cartoons, on the other hand, releases tension. Anyone want to go fishin'?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Use Inner Illusions/Allusions to Fire Your Art

I started this drawing from the bottom, up, 
not knowing what would happen until there it was,
dangling limbs and all. 

God, is this ever fun.
I highly recommend this kind of relaxed exploration
in visual art or whatever field you enjoy:
Cooking, Sewing, Hiking, Birding, Singing, etc.
Search for the surprise within your innermost creative spirit.
There's lightness in this depth.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Moment's Notice

(click to enlarge)

(There will be dancin' in the streets.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Drawings Can Have a Life of their Own

(Click to enlarge)

I thought I was drawing a bird with a balloon in the window, 
but on closer study it looks like a happy Fool.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Painting in the Door

I've discovered the best place to paint on a sunny day is sitting in the doorway of my new cave-like art studio. I like the indirect interior light, but it is a bit gloomy, although perfect for black/white drawing. It is not so great for cheerful color work. So my first painting experience here has been me sitting in the doorway with my back to the passing summer camp children, my easel inside and slightly to the right. This will work for vertical and smaller work, but horizontals will have to be inside the cave.

It's humorous to hear the sounds of young kids and moms/dads coming closer and closer down the walk, chatting away, and then all of a sudden... silence. If the silence lasts long enough I figure someone is interested, so I turn around and smile. Yesterday I saw the most beautiful blue eyes on a young boy, as he beamed at me with curiosity and wonder. Another child immediately dropped her eyes and pulled out of my sight line. She reminded me of me, so long ago: taking in so much right brain material she couldn't handle left brain conversation.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What do Gardening and Painting Have in Common?

A colorful palette.
Plenty of robust lessons in production/completion.
The ability to heal bruised psyches.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"The Grand Parade"

The 10th Anniversary of 9/11 is soon arriving.
So much has happened in the past 10 years...
Immense world wide change.
Here is a musing about carrying on.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Entwined Worlds

Another pairing full of humor, intelligence, sensitivity, and creativity.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Inspiring View of Artists in Synch

At the bottom of Tracy Martin's blog page (see link below) is a video of a collaborative art experience. One photographer is taking a photo of a paint artist while a second photographer and another paint/photographer artist is in the background, giving support. This video shows how comfort with collaborative creative intent can bring depth to the surface.


Here is one of the photographs produced.

It's interesting to check out the artwork of the subject, as well as that of his partner. I imagine them living together with their visions intertwined. You will find the names of the artists and links to their websites in Tracy's blog, above.

Friday, July 22, 2011


War Hero 
Mine Sweeper
Grand sense of humor
94 yesterday

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Love the Mystery

I just read that people don't respond to ambiguous thoughts. This made me laugh. I have been spending a life time celebrating the ambiguous.

Butterfly Boat

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Truth Behind Inspiration is Often Left a Mystery

One of the delights of art is using unpleasant experiences to stimulate one's muse, thereby turning difficulties into positive experiences. I had no idea until the end of creating this drawing that a spider would be hanging there, although I did know something unpleasant was clearly afoot when I intentionally drew those eyebrows. I am curious right now about what was the real life inspiration behind Little Miss Muffet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dancing With the Undefinable


Last Thursday I wandered into a gallery that housed a few Roy DeForest paintings. He taught the life drawing classes during my college years at Davis. Yes, he did bring in his dogs and posed with them, his wry smile askew. My lessons-learned from him are more about trusting my original thought than about drawing form in light and shadow, as he taught during his somewhat traditional drawing class. He graded on a curve, the only art professor I experienced doing so. He argued openly with us about this, hinting that a prudent artist must be aware that he/she is judged on a curve throughout life. What a hot topic, still!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jazz Pad

"The Master and the Music"

I have a very high respect for the music world, where one artist plays in harmonic communication with another, each bringing unique gifts to the table that together create something more wonderful than the singular thoughts by themselves.

What I love about the jazz world is the musicians can't praise each other enough! If I ever feel like the world is ungrateful, all I do is turn on jazz radio and hope for an interview with a musician. I'm soon feelin' the Love!

The visual art scene is far more solitary in expression, and it's not common practice to provide a soapbox at a gallery to coax the artists into naming their inspirations. Many times I have wished I could get out of my constantly info-receiving head long enough to call out the names of my heroes. 

When I started this blog it was because curious minds who lived far from me wanted to see my art. I therefore have kept the images all my own. But I am delighted to see now that this blogging has opened a door to that shout out I have been craving.

Today I'm thinking about Tara who is someone who grew up with my husband's family, and thusly had not been a close influence on the development of my life. And yet, two years ago Tara "saved my life" more than once by just walking in the door and gifting us with her personal expression. What an inspiration.

The drawing above is in honor of the "music" she played that soothed my sideways world back then. So, in a way, with her doing her thing, and me now doing my thing in response to her thing, we are actually making music together... just from a distance and over time. 

This is how art works. Influences that matter go deep, and there is no telling when the music will bubble up. But it will.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Color in the Dark

As we see in the movie "Midnight in Paris," the dark reveals our salvation. This is what I paint: the beauty in the dark that will lead us forward into the light.

(I cracked up laughing when I opened the door to the walk-in storage room in my new studio (it used to be a photography darkroom) and saw it was painted black on the left and white on the right, split right down the middle.)

New View

The Vista painting "Within and Through" is a small piece created in 2008 that hinted at a potential for  creating very large art if I ever had the physical space to do so. I now have a large work wall and am wondering what will come next.

Beginnings and Endings and Endings and Beginnings


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rag Doll Memories

(Click on image.)

This drawing was born in the west and now lives in the east.

Artists Musing Nearby


A friend of a friend is Christopher.
I finally met him this past weekend.
I walked into his website and saw, as well.


Go Forward and Prosper

"Exploration" (Detail)

There are so many marvels to behold at any point in time.
Right now for me it is a new art studio that feels like a cave.
It lacks eye-level windows, instead letting in light from far above.
The ceiling is a dark forest green.
The walls are a subtle gray.
The floor is chipped and compressed natural wood.
What treasure will I find in these shadows!?!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Main Street"

This is a painting from the past. (click to make larger)
That is my daughter on the right.
She is now approaching her senior year in college.
Back at the time of this painting she had no idea she would end up studying art in college,
Or that she'd intern in NYC with a dynamic group of artists.
Now the trick is to make sure that she doesn't give up on life too early, as the woman on the left is in danger of doing.

The other day a man told me he felt the end of the productive part of his life was coming soon.
He is in his mid 50s.
My parents learned to down hill ski in their mid 50s, never having put on skis before in their lives.
A friend learned to play tennis in her 60s.
Another friend wrote two books after age 60 and another has had a successful painting career after 60.
My mom-in-law helped start the Monterey County Hospice at the age of 56, and worked in amazing leadership for over 25 years.

And then there is Bill the gardener. He lives unlike any of us: his bed is in a truck, his living room is in a shed, and his bathroom is in a gas station.
Years ago he had spent countless hours massaging Joseph Campbell down at Esalen in Big Sur.
They mused together.
Now probably in his 80s, Bill says he is surprised he has lived as long as he has.
A few years back he stopped massaging muscles and started massaging the stoney dry soil at Ripplewood (also in Big Sur).
Where there had been nothing but weeds and rocks for half a century, he takes a cutting and sticks it directly into the ground. He waters. Up blooms beauty. Blissful life cycles of beauty.

Yes, there is life after 50, daughter of mine.
No need to rush into your future.
Each stage will have gifts to keep your hands full.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dance With What You've Got, Inside.

To Chaz and Paula
Here's Wishing You Both Good Health and "A Belly Dance"!
Keep up the Spirit!

Tappin' Away

Nurse and Heroine
Took Care of Aging Dad
Loves Snoopy
Dances to Her Own Judi Beat

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Can't Stop the Music

I met a number of inspiring people in the last couple of days. One of them is a musician who may not be the rock star he wanted to be a while ago, but he rocks in life none-the-less. If you have that inner song, you can't help singing it, in whatever you do. (This drawing was created a couple of months ago, but it fits an abstract idea of what I felt coming out of him.) Long live the music within, Chris!

Another was a woman who cracked me up, continually, with her charmingly dry wit... totally dead pan, totally unpretentious, totally honest and a little embarrassed about her honesty. Now how, I wonder, can I draw a portrait of that?! The best I can do is put up this drawing, "Seeing Eye to Eye," because I really did understand just about everything she was saying, and she did have a quirky off-the-wall twist to her smile. Wish I'd caught her name!

This drawing does not directly depict the band I heard yesterday, but there was an edgy sound I liked that is vaguely similar to the edge found in this drawing. The singer has the ability to sing with immensely luscious fluidity, but it is the band's edge-abrupt songs that caught my attention. I bought the band's new CD, which favors their dreamy and romantic sounds, but I hope to hear more of their angularity in the future. Happily, one can hear the edge on their website's video selections.


Visual Gone Verbal For a Moment

Something strange has occurred. I spoke into a mike today to a large group of writers (word experts!!!) and I didn't choke. To anyone who knows me well and reads this, they now understand that miracles really can happen. There's hope for us all!

(On the other hand, words seem to be come out of me right and left these days! It's totally bizarre behavior and my siblings are quite suspicious that I am an alien in disguise. I keep looking for the turn off switch but haven't yet found it. So I've decided to revel in the noise and also to try to crack as many jokes as possible, to ease the pain of those who have to do the listening. Joseph is my main man!)