Monday, December 31, 2012

High and Low Perspectives

"Sisters on a Walk"

(Click on image to see accurate size of drawing)


They walk in different worlds of thought.
One learns through the insight of others 
(The thoughtful folks on the right).
One learns through personal experience
(The swimmers and ship on the high seas).

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Subversive Intent

                         Wishful thinking:

                         Draw/paint beauty to capture it.
                         Draw/paint horror to tame it.
                         Draw/paint ugliness to deny it.
                         Draw/paint humor to transcend it.
                         Draw/paint life to understand it.


Saturday, December 29, 2012


(Go ahead, get in my face, click on me.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Portrait of the Inside Going Out

A portrait of the inside doesn't necessarily make sense,
until it does.
I just found the photo below which shows the connections 
I'm referring to in my Nov. 1, 2012 post.
 No, I didn't paint those similar shapes consciously.
Yes, this is part of the fun I have with my art:
I often don't know what I'm painting until there it is, 
revealed somewhere along the way.
It's usually a musing case of "ah, so this is what this is."

Then I execute the project with as much intelligence as possible,
bending the brush to fit my philosophical needs.

Madame Bona was a great one for self gifting. See that secret smile? That was her best gift to herself: an attitude that life was always worth living with style, even when style was reduced to sucking a martini through a straw. 
My painting, above, is not about this delightful self aspect. It is instead about her inner questionings... what she went through before the cocktail hour.

Saturday, December 22, 2012



Friday, December 21, 2012

Turn Up the Music, Art Man

This "Guitar Player" drawing is just a tiny bit larger than what you see here. If I had a better pen nib and some older ink, I would have made the image even smaller still, so at first glance one sees mostly just gray wiggles of an unrecognizable form. Background music.

In real life the audience uses a magnifying glass to look closer at the drawing. Here you get to just click on the image to magnify, to turn up the volume. Notice the high notes, low notes, different harmonies, introduction of new instruments, sweet melodies ... What used to be background music is now an enveloping world of experience and energy, perhaps even insight.

Below is a different kind of music.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Graceful Dance in the Dark

Pulling out of a depression is similar to moving to a new country. The trick is to embrace the new language and customs with as much grace as possible. Though difficult to find, one can buy grace at most stores, especially at the one located two freckles to the right, three forward, one back, two to the left and two back of your funny bone. Price: a drop of effort and a look outside the box.

Finding Purpose


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Anatomy of a Drawing of Drama - Anger

Map for
"View from Below" (below)

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Theater is Us

 "View from Below"

The beast within snarls awake,
pulls and pushes for quick release.
Look down.
Fear disintegrates.

The beast within snarls awake,
pulls and pushes for quick release.
Look up.
Stop, breath, think.
Fear disintegrates.
Breath, think, climb.

Dedicated to those who are newly lost 
and to those who have new loss, 12/2012.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Greed / Disaster / Fear / Control / Rebirth / Humor / Bliss

 "The Fool and the Phoenix"

This is one of my "I've got to say it all, damn it!" paintings. How in the hell can anyone even attempt to capture the complexity of this world?  ... By doing just that, putting oneself at the bottom, in Hell, and working upwards.

Fully Involved with the Art of Other

I recently saw a film about a naturalist, Joe Hutto, who lived a year pretending to be a wild turkey (the bird). Early in the story, it became clear that the human in the story was more excited about being a turkey than about being a human. He fell completely into the art of turkey behavior, learning how to speak turkey jibberish (NOT jibberish!), to walk or run at turkey speed, to eye turkey food with intent, and even to slumber in turkey nappishness.

The fabulous secret to this man's success (for it was so great a success that he even adopted turkey fighting skills) was this naturalist's ability to lose himself into the identity of other. What art have you seen, heard, tasted, or read that pulled you into this sense of other... where you realize that the artist has not only lost him/herself completely into creating the scene, but also had the talent to take you out of yourself and into this "otherness".

Music, sculpture, visual arts, film, theater, artful food, literature. Some mediums make the transition easier than others. Which are the most difficult? Why? What do the best artists and the turkey naturalist have in common? Where do you use this behavior in your own life?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jump into the Bouquet, Taximan

This world is a beautiful but tragically messy place, no doubt about it. Ugliness can be seen anywhere if one opens one's eyes. (Pardon me while I take time out to remember the signs of terror I've seen in  desperate rodents, large animals, strangers/friends/relatives, myself...) I look at art as a means for accepting the chaos and for hopefully turning the mess into beauty.

"Unfolding Bouquet", below, is a tribute to the magnificence of the cycles of life and death. This world is an extremely complicated place full of all types of perception, but when one steps back, it's really just a blossoming bundle of fertility.

One can get good at sock skating around the house.

Friday, December 14, 2012


"Unfolding Bouquet"

Recently the atmosphere at my studio art complex went through a hell period when the City Council acted aggressively and disrespectfully. Many artists eventually lost their studios, including me. I had lost my home two years earlier, and lost my studio three times this particular year. While I also underwent strange physical losses, my spirit entered a state of detached emotional strength that I had no idea I was capable of. The above painting came out of the worst time of my physical and emotional chaos. A fellow artist who was losing his own studio saw this painting and reacted with a surprised "It's so happy!"

Humans have a remarkable ability to survive, no matter how heavy the load.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Art of Getting Through It

It is possible to see beauty anywhere at anytime,
even in the midst of danger...
as long as we're sane, that is.
(And hopefully we survive the distraction.)

(Theater set ~ San Mateo High School)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elusive Truth

"Meditation with Pink Fish"
(Private Collection)

Today someone posed a difficult question.
It took me over an hour to come to some type of an answer.
The answer is in ongoing movement, itself, defined by the elements of time and change.

We do slip through the minutes, hours, days, years, being influenced by the currents.
Of course the answers change.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Chasing the Maddening Muse

I live with a man who chases birds, and since I like being with the guy I end up chasing the birds, too. I'm the driver, the "Parnelli-Toldi", the one who keeps my eyes on the road instead of in the trees, shrubs, telephone wires... ditches, ponds, lakes. Bird watchers go everywhere. I mean Everywhere! If there's a small road, he's been on it. Maybe I've been on it.

There's only one place I refuse to go back to. That's the Salton Sea... in the summer... especially at night. I met a black widow there, in the out house, belly up, right at calf level. Later a drunk truck looped d-looped one foot from our tent. The lake was full of dead fish. Disgusting aromas filled the air. My brain banged and banged and banged with pain. No. I'm never going back.

Never-the-less, when I google Salton Sea images, I find a gold mine of beauty, tragic and strangely uplifting. It is difficult to simply enjoy the Salton Sea. It engenders great passions of hate, despair, fear, pleasure, and frustrated hope. And ultimately, awe. Man made this disaster. Nature frames it in mirrors of sunlight, warmth, and reflected glory. Push ~ pull ~ push ~ pull.

Take notes. This is where migraines are made and revelations hit us at our core. I will never go back, but the Salton Sea is never far from me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fish Game Inspected

I have always known that seeing as much as I do can be both an aye and a nay factor. What I am now wondering is if the swimming along is easier for those who see more, or for those who see less... or is it as complex an experience for us all, regardless of how clearly we see?

There are thorns on the stems of those beautiful roses that we admire from afar. Looking closely reveals the danger. We can keep ourselves safe... or we can stick in our hands and find life itself.

"Gossip Waiting for a Juicy Story"
(Private Collection)

(Take a chance, click on fuzz ball)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Love in Art: Simple or Complex?

"Familiar acts are made beautiful through Love," so it is said.
I'm in thorough agreement here, and so it is easy to look around to see whom I love lightly, and perhaps, deeply.

It's the mustached guy with the toothbrush in his mouth, and it's the guy with the hat who bobs his head left and right every step he takes. It's also the guy who says, "good morning" in the same tone every day, clear-eyed, not knowing me at all.

It is the cat-like silhouette of a woman, jogging down the street. It is the girl with the long, long legs in the public bathroom, who looks in the mirror with eyes that might have been innocent yesterday. It is the gal who bares her chest at the trash collector and laughs and laughs and laughs as she quickly winds her way back down the street, to her home, to her young son, to her husband. It's that laugh that brings love, and the daredevil attitude. "I am alive!" she yells. She is.

When we make art every line we draw, every stroke we paint, every conscious or unconscious step, comes from a place similar to this sense of appreciation. It's basically looking at the world within and without oneself, and admitting "You, out there, whatever you are, I might love you or I might hate you (war imagery) but I also respect you, honor you... because you are real and you are fascinating."

There's no room for embarrassment here. No room for low cuts about sentimentality. In the deepest form of art there is nothing but that experience of monumental connection with the subject, product be damned. It is the wealth of the universe that some artists are actually able to convey this depth of connection, through their art, to the people around them. It is the luck of the universe that some of these people perceive.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No Wiggle Room

We are in this together, you, me,
and the guys outside our cave entrance.
We always have been here, set in stone,
stressing and shifting our bones, hoping for more room.
The only difference between then and now
is in how I listen, inside, deeply.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Living in the Painting

Where we are right now shifts our perspective on viewed art.
Usually I suspect that warmth will soon break through somewhere in this cool painting.

At this moment, though, a torrential rain/wind storm is beating a cold and wet tattoo on my west facing windows. I turn to look inside this painting and see/feel a matching atmosphere.

"Beyond the Tempest", in reality, references changing weather patterns of sun, fog and rain on the Big Sur coast as well the crisp, icy coldness I found when traveling in Alaska. In my mind, and on canvas, I enjoy merging these localities, creating a somewhat abstracted world view about weather. Can people in England relate to the weather in this painting? Japan? Siberia?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Docent or Enabler on the Trail of Art

Story lines in my paintings are different from story lines in books, because the viewer is in more control of the dialogue between the images and his/her own life experience. This painting incorporates symbols from many different sources: literature, news media, gift cards, world travels, art theory, history, and more.

I have met many people who have found themselves in this painting. What does the red mean to you? What of the circles and teddy bear? The pink animals and the hidden shadows? Is there any sense of discovery for you when you recognize a shape is turning into a symbol that might have personal meaning for you? If you are an artist, of any sort, how involved is the audience in defining the meaning within your art?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Energetic Juice of Art

Creating art is not dissimilar to back packing in the wilderness.

One goes to the location, finds the trail head, starts up the trail, exerts a lot of energy, rethinks a trajectory or two, and discovers many amazing (or disturbing) things about oneself and about the world around them. A more experienced hiker might add the spice of history, philosophy, biology, and even spirituality to the journey.

Thusly thought, art making can be considered cleansing, invigorating ... and perhaps quite foolish, depending on the weather.

In other words. Life at its best!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sketching a Feeling

She's now 22 years of age, and lives across the nation from me, but my arms still remember embracing the totality of her being. Lucky am I to have this sketch. Luckier am I that she responds to my physical touch still. Luckiest am I that she has the kind of mind that can read my art well.

Resonating connection between humans is not to be taken for granted, ever, regardless of whether one is blood relation or not. Some of my best embraces have been with fleet footed escape artists.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Audience Participation

Yesterday I met with two women. The first looked at the lines in my face and wanted to talk about my ills and pains. The second looked at the same lines and wanted to talk about the healthy wisdom behind my expressions.  It's time to pull out Ballerina Girl, the heroine of my life. She can perform the same dance with exquisite grace night after night, but it will never be the same ~ the audience is just as much a part of the dance as she is, influencing the air with unique stories of youth and age.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vortex or Helix?

Make this tiny painting more interesting by clicking on it and stretching the enlargement the width of your screen. Inspired in part by memories of walking in the underbrush near the bridge at Little Sur River (Big Sur) when I was a kid. Later, when I was a teenager, this area was bulldozed to thwart hippy encampments. I rode the school bus past twice a day, mourning the loss of such richness. The scar lasted for years but thankfully the brush-trees have grown back. No trespassing allowed, though, so I had to paint it to live it again.

Changing Perspective

I mentioned before that I painted this work while almost on remote control due to distracted concentration. This means I keep finding things out about it now that I wasn't aware of when in my creative mode. Today I finally figured out what that rock-like shape in the center of the painting might be.

One of the best aspects of somewhat abstract drawing is the viewer's imagination can use the images like maps of personal discovery.

The above painting emerged from somewhere thoughtful, regardless of the bogus clarity of my mind while painting it. I've always admired the following artist, and I am deducing that my life has finally given me enough experiential information/maturing to travel closer to a Bosch understanding.

Hieronymous Bosch was a master at making the viewer squirm by creating frightening organic forms out of abstracted shapes. I am not that bold, but I see successful attempts by young artists all across the internet these days. The image below makes one wonder how close the Bosch past and the freakish present really are.

Hieronymous Bosch "The Garden of Earthly Delights" (Detail)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

So Bright it Has to Be Black and White

Long ago I tried to paint a portrait of this woman but her colorful eyes glowed so brightly I knew I'd never be satisfied with any type of capture I achieved.

I compromised by cutting away all the color... making this a black and white image.

Years later, by complete coincidence my husband and I rent from this woman's brother. He has a smile that when fully charged beams with similar beauty. Last year I drew a cartoon of it, along with the long-tounged grin of his dog, Lucky, and sent the drawing to a friend who had cancer. The imp in me is sure those grins were a big part of her healing.

(Click on image to see my attempt at Lena's eyes.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Soft and Hard

Red Rose Green Girl

Here is a quick sketch from just 
before I began painting circular abstract art.
World concern plays with personal insight.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Creative Growth

Forest Dream (Private Collection)

No matter how young or old we are/become,
balance comes when we take a break from it all.

I have been listening to cherry bombs exploding in the night,
watching storm petrals fly ominously close to the water.

One can dip the brush in black paint or red.
One can dip the brush in green.
One can hibernate and hope the dreams are full spectrum.

It is easy to be too small or too big,
It is far more difficult to be comfortable
in the company of shrinkage and bigness in others.
How to paint this?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lessons Larger than a Sandcastle

I know someone who spent much of his senior high school year at the beach, skipping morning classes that bored him. He'd build up sand castle kingdoms and watch the water destroy them, over and over and over. Most parents and administrators these days would cringe at such delinquency, forgetting to look at the motivations and lessons being learned.

The creative spirit in this boy is what has balanced the man he became... into decades of success in our sterile and often cold business world.

Happy Birthday to the Sandcastle Builder

What a circus this world is! 
Note to self: support the humor inside a true friend.

(click on image)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pleasure Traveling Through Creativity

"Vista III (Blue Mist)" Private Collection

One of the delights of painting abstract landscapes is in the travel. 

When I painted the shapes into this painting I physically sat in my studio at my easel, creating without a pre-plan other than artful discovery. In my mind, and as I worked, I was soon under that sky, scanning that vista, feeling the wind, searching for soaring birds, wondering if I would see a rodent under the brush I'd just discovered. I puzzled about whether the climate unfolding before me was bitterly cold and perhaps too dry for life all year around, or was this merely a winter's seasonal scene.

I am told* human brains create pleasure chemicals when we do the following activities:

Play, Care, Search

Creating art can secrete all three. Healthy PCS (picks).

*Info provided by Carol S.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Final View

I was asked if my art was self expression. She assumed I would paint in dark colors if I was in a dark mood, or in light colors if I was in a light mood.

Since I am in a mood to explain...

Above is a portrait of the dying months of an elderly woman, as I perceived she was experiencing the world through hearing/seeing the thoughts and emotions she expressed to me. I lived with this woman during her last 7 months, not so much as her health provider ~ more as the resident comic relief.

Oxygen was not entering her brain fully during these months so her thoughts often drifted into dementia. She came up with the most astonishingly surrealistic verbal imagery during these times. At other times she was completely lucid and enjoyed a good reminisce or ponder of what the future might bring. She was a world traveler who adored history and would hold forth with great aesthetic movement of hand and turn of vocal phrase. The fact that she was the daughter of European peasantry and was raised in the wealthiest town in America colored her points of view. She had embraced both life and death in her professional career. She helped hundreds of people become their better selves.

I painted this portrait immediately after she died. Yes, there is my own expressive self in the piece. The colors are my own choice (the colors of her bedroom walls and garden outside), as are the specific images (symbols, really). But this is a portrait of what I had seen happen in someone else's life. In other words, if I had painted a lemon that I set on a table next to my canvas, and the painted image looked like a lemon to you, you'd think lemon. You wouldn't ask me if I was being self expressive. Likewise, if you had been in the house with me as I lived with this dying woman for 7 months, you might look at this painting and think: dying woman. Our society recognizes that portraits can be of what we see on the outside. Less obvious are the many portraits out there which are about what it is to think/feel on the inside.

As soon as this piece was publicly exhibited it was snapped up by a collector who recognized the nature of the portrait .

If you click on the image you might be able to see the tiniest vignettes within the larger picture. This is a woman going over all of her memories, rereading a thousand books, questioning too many of her own assumptions, and letting go of a hundred dreams. Her final view.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Building from the Past a Future

Temple ~ 3 Wise and a Clown
(Needs clicking to Perceive)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Explain this painting," he said. 

I preferred not to explain, but I did, because his needing to have the painting explained is relevant. When I look at this painting I see a young woman with gaudy eye make up and innocent pink lip stick. She wears many veils, symbols of hiding or trying on new identities. There are surrounding shapes that might represent sow bugs or pupas, representing hiding and transition into something new. Above is an organic form that has released its seeds, seeds of thought. To the left, hidden behind a transparent splash, is a clawed hand: danger/fear. She appears to be standing in front of another person, or perhaps this is another aspect of herself or who she hopes to be. I explained that this is a portrait of a teenager, about 16 years old, confused by her hormones.

My visitor looked down at me, "Couldn't you paint your symbolism more specifically? You had to explain this to me and a good painting explains itself."

Exactly, I said. You felt confused and annoyed by how the painting didn't explain itself to you easily. Without my explanation you were the girl looking in the mirror. You had no idea what was going on. You could have figured it out if you paid attention, but what teenager wants to do that? Now I've explained a little, so the world makes more sense, but I bet, as any teenager would, you wish you could have figured it all out on your own.

Here is another portrait of female adolescence, a teen in transition. Both were painted when my daughter was high school aged, but they are not portraits of her, specifically.