Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fresh Air

I cut up the group of 2"x2" drawings (see Dec. 18 blog entry) and handed them out as gifts to a group of art friends. While I was personally influenced by the Big Sur fire when I was drawing them, I also thought about this group of women and how we all go through difficult times in our lives, and the tools we use to keep from sinking into dysfunction or worse.

My husband read me a quote about how our country doesn't really know how to do grief. We expect our family, friends, neighbors to bounce back unharmed by traumatic change, and we are surprised and disappointed when it isn't so easy to achieve this cork behavior ourselves. These drawings describe thought/behavior tools that can help with buoyancy.

Francine Survilo wrote to me her thoughts about the drawing she received.

"I like the little ladder picture because of the idea of getting different air.  I remember a time when my mom was having a terrible, upsetting time with her landlady trying to make her get rid of all her flowers and I was trying to help.  We would both get so upset and then one day I drove us a couple of miles east 
to the Baylands where we sat on a bench.  After 2 or 3 minutes we both felt so much better - just light and free like our old selves.  That's what I thought of when you talked about the different air up on the ladder."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Leaping About

A bit more activity has appeared on the page. Making this kind of drawing takes time. Each individual is a world unto him/herself, as we are in life. One must disassociate from one type of thinking figure into a different personality/experience and character drawing style. Interruptions from life helps, too. That little pig is Miss Priscilla who was released from her pen when the Big Sur Fire burned too close to her home. I keep hearing her grunts of pleasure.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Unfolding Bouquet"
5"x3", oil.
Will be showing in Daly City next month.
Details below.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When Disaster Strikes

"15 Dream Makers"
(click to see)

Sometimes life takes us on adventures we'd prefer not to travel. These little drawings are about the courage we find within ourselves to get through rough times and to reclaim dreams lost. Somehow we have to turn what is difficult into something that is transcending. It takes a certain mind set, and it can take months, even years to achieve. It is absolutely doable.

I drew these the first day I learned my home town was on fire. Many of my friends have lost their beloved homes with nothing but their lives and a vehicle to drive out in. If you are interested in helping those devastated, here's a link with information.

In order to reclaim lost dreams it helps to find within oneself:
(Reading left to right)

1)    Unconditional love.
2)    Inner balance through concentration.
3)    Trust in the lessons from your ancestors.
4)    The ability to climb towards breathing fresh, clean air.
5)    A trust that you can soar with your own inner strength.
6)    Your own unique triangles of experiential insight and strength.
7)    Creative energy.
8)    Your personal spiritual holy grail.
9)    Your own unique key to answering the question.
10)  The light that is reflected in the glass that is holding the liquid.
11)  Community support.
12)  The relaxing atmospheric thought of meditation. 
13)  Your connection with nature.
14)  The knowledge that every deep hole is full of insight.
15)  Your personal magic.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Here are links generated by just a few of the interesting people
who walked in last week. 
Many create great holiday gifts.

The Art in Communication

This work in progress is pretty much what it is all about. Here we are, doing our own things, each of us in our own worlds and then sometimes reaching out to others. How we touch those near us is sometimes messy and at other times helpful and maybe inspiring. There are confused times when we don't read other people very well and make matters worse by reacting from a place of inner anguish or self disrespect. Balancing these miseries are the blissful moments where those we meet enjoy the unguarded sounds that come out of our mouths.

Some of us are natural clowns, some natural frowns. We might be emotionally straight brains or twisted psychological tornadoes. We might ponder the universe or be those that are fascinated by the cracks in the sidewalk. We are those who love a good cup of coffee or those who get jazzed by herbal concoctions. We are they who have never met an argument that isn't lovable or those who cringe at the sound of a nay. Is it air under that hood of a car we love the most, or that which blows off books in forgotten libraries? Do we delight by the stories of others or wish we didn't have to hear so much noise in the world? Do we like frijoles, sushi, cooked cabbage, fried worms, chocolate roasted with love and inspiration? Do we pop mint life savers when we are at a loss of what else to do?

This past weekend I had an Open Studio and my art room was full to over flowing with strangers and friends alike. Each individual was a walking inner story sharing my space and looking into my art mind with interest that ranged from enthusiastic soul mate to informed critic and on towards detached skeptic.

What thrills me about the whole experience is that it was not a one sided experience. People did not just come in and look and leave: instead there was discussion about views and perspectives and philosophies. We talked about my work. We talked about their work. We both found and noted similar chords as well as disparate notes that set each of us apart as individuals different from one/another.

Communication is at the heart of all art. It is so easy to settle into surrounding oneself with like minds, but the fascination is in discovering the diversity, recognizing that what we might think at first has no meaning actually could come alive when thought upon... and then Wow! our world has just been enriched with the youthful vitality of the newly perceived. This past weekend such wealth of ingredients was tossed into my compost pile. This morning it turned into black gold. Time to create guys! You, too!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Equilibrium Within the Seasonal Chaos

"Riding Chaos" has been accepted into a group art show in Chicago, the theme being "Equilibrium". Click on the image and use a bit of imagination and you will see many symbols of calming elements we humans reach towards as we ride through our shifting world. (Example: that maroon rectangular shape might be a flying carpet just waiting to carry a trapped soul off into fabulous adventures of discovery, pleasure and hope.)

This painting and my recent miniature art can be seen this weekend,
Dec. 7 & 8, from 11-5 at:

Peninsula Art Institute Open Studios
1777 California Dr.
Burlingame, CA

(Painting has since sold.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New Little Book

When the world no longer makes sense
it makes sense to turn to nonsense.
It is amazing how quickly the horizon line
can then shift from cluttered confusion
into something that might have calmness and humor
and that maybe, perhaps, if you will, have meaning.
This little 50-page cartoon collection is fresh off the press.
I predict that some of you will find this book
in a place where you least expect it.
And others will find it here,
where you most expect it.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Cossack by the River Flow"

Here we are, looking out at what we do or don't understand, due to our life experiences being this way and their life experiences being that way. The secret to overcoming what looks strange to us is to see what is not strange. Add a drop of humor and you have a nice cocktail for learning something new in a colorful light.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Beauty by the River Flow"

For those who soldier on in any walk of life.

Friday, November 1, 2013

"Thirst by the River Flow"

My dentist has a calming waiting lounge. We sit amongst elegant living bamboo, art of the moon and sun, fresh trickling water soothing our senses. On the far wall are contemporary magazines to distract the jumpy mind. To the right is a large abstract print that gives off the sense of lightness, airiness, an uplift of the soul.

But I have been sitting here too long, waiting for my doctor who is behind in her schedule. I venture up to the abstract, look closely at the rough rectangular shapes that loosely line the lower edge of the airy space. Are these something specific? I turn my head sideways. An animal head? Oh... it's a horse head... and body. A dead horse. And next to it another dead horse. And a third. And here is one that is almost dead and here is one that is alive but suffering. And up there, in that lovely space of freedom, a heroic horse, riding off to war, proud and strong. And now I see, in the vaporously abstract background, a spirit horse, riding swiftly, upwards and away.

I sit back down and listen to the flowing water. It is all here in this small dentist lounge. Life. And that means death. And all that is in between and beyond. Forever flowing forward. Quenching our thirst for rejuvenation.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Leap of Faith"

This one's for feisty Suzette, who says she is doing her best to nullify the cancer with love.

(Suzette choreographed a very moving modern dance piece to the tune of humpback whale songs back during her UCD years. There were about 15 dancers dressed in blues, wiggling around together on the floor in undulating water forms. It was so effective she was invited to have the piece performed in venues outside the university, quite an honor at the time.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Abyss of the Birds"

This one is for Dan's mom, who just flew off into the horizon where pain no longer exists.

I should say that I use the word abyss in a light way as in space, lack of time consciousness, essence of nothing and everything all at once. Just before my own mother-in-law (a good Catholic) died she kept asking us what was on the other side of the photographs which hung on her bedroom wall. What reality existed behind them. It was an abstract question. That is where we find the white abyss of the birds, behind the photographs of our lives.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Secrets by the River Flow"

It's that time of year when we fight off scary ghosts and inner demons. Facing what we fear has a bizarre tendency to create inner calm once the blood pressure slows down. The trick is to actually make friends with those fears. Of course this doesn't mean turning into the ghost, the demon. It means loving it as if your life depended on it. Which it might.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saturated Elements

"Gift of the Iguana"

Take the chance. Eat that pearl of crazy insight that feeds your pioneer instincts to become within and without absolutely wild in a grounded yet passionate way.

Monday, October 21, 2013

(Just in case you didn't know.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Subtle Verging on Invisible

"Inner Calm"

This experimental painting is getting closer to capturing that drifty state of relaxation we all reach for in our lives, a place where what is and isn't verges together in a comfortable atmosphere of contentment, regardless of the difficulties of our individual experiences.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Night Music"

When there is healing music being played, the artist hopes for forgiveness of missed notes.

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Stop Watch"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Well Baked Goods

"T'd Off Cookie"

Here's another drawing I'll send to the cartoon factory over the next little while. I never know what I'll find until I stick my head in there... get nosey and noisy. Sometimes it's not pretty at all, and quite inedible. It's easy to crumple a silent cookie, not so a noisy one. It then becomes a contest of guiding the content. And therein lies the difference between design, personal expression, and art.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sneaking Around and Forward

"Young Rooster"

This is a return to a character type carried through my work from the late '70s when I lived with the dancer and soon to be clothing designer Julienne Weston of Weston Wear. She had a quirky style of approaching life and creative dance choreography that inspired me no end... literally, since I'm still at it.

This figure loosely describes a young man I grew up with. I see him everywhere in the creative spirit of today's youth. You'll find him here in this music video I happened on 5 minutes after I finished the drawing: The Rosebuds - Life Like.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Monday, September 16, 2013

Watching the Flock

I've been wandering around with the birds again. I have no idea what some of them are talking about. I'll probably never know, but wondering... it's always entertaining to wonder.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Exploration in Perspective

This is just goofing around on the computer for fun, but I had to laugh because from a distance that squiggle, which is nothing, looks like something... the opposite from what I usually do, which is create something that looks like nothing from a distance, but is something close up.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Martini Mind"

August and September, 2013.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Blue Serenade"

A love poem.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Need a Happy Fix?

I was in a sad mood. Came in here and enlarged the image. That funny face perked me up. (Seems like answers to problems are always so damned hidden and you have to be such a sleuth to figure them out!)

"My Funny Valentine"

There's Nothing Dull About It

"Into the Waterway"

I have been meeting and talking to many people from my past over the recent few months, ages stretching from 23 to 75 years of age. These individuals have been generous enough to share a bit of their personal stories with me. I have heard excitement and sadness, frustration and rumination, verbose happiness and stoic one liners. Through all of the outpourings I've sensed a deep awe of the surprises that life brings us. I've heard wonderful tales of how disaster has struck but solutions were found and transitions (even transcendence) successfully carried out. The wear and tear is there, but in so many the wrinkles of experience crinkle forth with soulful wisdom and lively senses of humor.

I attempt to put an appreciation of this kind of human experience into my art. What higher honor can I do as a visual speaker than to illustrate the complexity of this amazing world. (As always, click on the image to get a closer look at the painting, just as in life we click in on an individual to get a closer look at their stories.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Exploring New Territory

"Say's Phoebe Putting on the Skids in Unfamiliar Territory"*

*Note the mountainous Pacific coastline at a distance on the lower left. Say's Phoebes prefer to be a bit more inland, and fly lower to the ground. A more desirous habitat is to the right, grassy plains.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Not a Simple Matter" (Detail)

On Saturday a friend tossed me into the "Impressionists on the Water" exhibit at the Legion of Honor. I flopped around a bit, sputtered, and came up grinning.

When I was 16 I learned how to sail a two-person sail boat. It took quite a few dunkings to teach me a sense of balance.

Looking at the watery imagery created over a century ago, I realized I can now play all the parts: sailor, pleasure rider, painter, observer, and critic. I walked away, as always, the student.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Scanning the Vista

This is a detail from a very small painting still in progress. The painting might not survive, but I thought I'd show you this little part that pleases me. What you see is the same size as the original, but if you click on the image you will have an idea of what I see when I put on my magnifying glasses to paint. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Digital Doesn't Beat the Real Thing

Verified by Dana Pianowski, the gouaches are far more interesting in person than as seen on the internet. One can not scan such subtle paint. This makes me smile.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Invisible Structure

And now to spill the beans...

One of the magical aspects of producing a painting is the artist's unique view... the product's invisible structure. Intentionally or not, we are all influenced by the activities that happen within and around us, but no one can guess at these influences except the curious mind of the individual involved him/herself. Life is too abstract for one to know the motivations of another.

We might wake up in the morning feeling light and wholesomely airy, or maybe instead heavy with a headache caused by allergens floating in the open night window. Our day will unfold under the structure of these physical influences. While passing a restaurant window and seeing a couple lean forward with moon eyes we might feel elation of spirit or instead the despair of loneliness. If a large dog runs toward us we might suffer fear that shakes us to the core, or perhaps laugh in joy at the bounding mass of animal energy.

When I look at "A Quiet Letter," below, I can find quite a few invisible structural influences behind those wandering pastoral lines. They are all unique to me but speak for the masses.
  • The underbrush that I loved to crawl in as a child, and saw mowed down by territorial tractors.
  • Southwestern cliffs that felt alive with history as I traveled through.
  • The magnificence of the meeting of the wild Calif. coastal mountains crashing down to meet the expansive plain of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Endless horizons found within cloud formations, the silver linings left over from the depression era.
  • Remembrance/thoughts of children who would practice at being soldiers, and then one day find themselves unable to write the truth home to Mother.
  • A faith that female energy holds some solace.
  • The quest for wisdom that unites humanity world-wide.
  • The acknowledgement that humans are on a historical, cyclical trajectory that informs and defines us as complex human beings.
Whenever any artist creates a work, no matter in which style, the complexity of that person's worldly experience helps build the structure behind each piece of art, from the most simple, to the most concrete, to the most obscure. Whether we relate to the art that we see is a matter of personal taste, but the invisible and unique structure stands, regardless of the audience.

Other artists emerging from my childhood playground, doing it their own way:

Erin Gafill
Sarah Healey
Celia Sanborn
The Bradfords siblings:
      (And soon to be Tal, just beginning to find a visual voice.)

A book that describes a rugged Big Sur childhood somewhat similar to that of most of the above artists can be found in the words of Nancy Hopkins, published in the book "These are My Flowers", edited by her daughter, Heidi Hopkins.

My childhood was a bit more civilized, being born to a world half in and half out of the wilderness.
The local elder artist that most influenced me from that youthful era was quite a designer (not my forte) but influence me he did. Emile Norman. All that attention to detail, the blending of man and nature, the determination to do his art his own way, no matter what.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

How Much Information is Needed?

"A Quiet Letter"

The attempt here was to create a very quiet painting that is full of unspoken content.

Update: I added a bit more, the top of the tree bleeding out onto the white area above. I have decided to keep this for my private collection. Even though the message is deep, the quiet of the piece works well on my bedroom wall.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Unexpected Outcomes

"Meditation at the Park"

We think we know where the flow goes, but we really don't. Two posts ago you see this painting partially finished. I had every expectation that the water would continue to flow forward, a continuing river of thought. Between then and now I experimented with photoshop. For the first time in my art career I manipulated the image on my computer screen, doing plan-ahead sketches, painting water into the foreground, filling in 18 different scenarios of what could happen in the painting... small rivulets, large rushes, pools, even splashings over the frame and out into the white space below. So many ways to look at this unfolding image.

Then I wiped those images off my computer screen, went back to the painting table in the other room and painted the above to completion. No water at all came forward, but if you look closely you will see that the shrubbery began to glow.

There is trust in the way that I work that has everything to do with intuition acquired from years of observation, and very little to do with cautious manipulation. I don't know if drying up all of the water was the sensible choice. It is definitely the right choice: Where is the water going? Did it flow into the foreground before and has it now dried up? Is the flow coming in anew, to a place that has never beheld water before? Why are the people unconcerned? Can they hear the water? Why do the people trust the tameness of the water when it might also be seen as totally out of control? Can we meditate quietly while the world drastically changes around us? What is flow, anyway?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Inky Thoughts

"An Expressive Spot"

Clearly a good place to harvest cartoons.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Inspiration Ebb and Flow

(Older version of "Meditation in the Park")

Sometimes the flow is interrupted by life's circumstances, or maybe by an intentional break from the action. One must have the faith that the water will surge forward anew when needed.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The River Flow

I just received news that Tim, in his 40s, has approximately one month to live. He has been moved to a sunny, warm, garden enclosed, home-like environment. Full-time nursing care is available. Tim is fully involved with flow right now, a torrent of flow.

"Map in Green, Blue, and Orange" (July 23rd post) is dedicated to all that is Tim.

"Self Portrait as American Bittern, Hiding"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Enlightening Shadows

"Map in Blue, Green, and Orange"

Thinking about how we drift in and out of awareness with others around us, life events, landscapes, even ourselves. 

In the lower left there is an area of fine blue lines on green background. While I drew these I recalled the sailers in the Patrick O'Brian books who fell overboard and often couldn't swim. 

The dog shape on the right feels familiar (as dogs are) but also references sloth-ness, the opposite of bright bouncy devoted dog-ness... contradictions within oneself.

The eyes-wide-open owl and the eagle-like owl, children's books and good/evil, predator/prey.

How does one bridge the gap between the sweetness of life and the cruelty. The whole spectrum exists and therefore is worthy of note. Literature explores in all directions. 

Those sailors Patrick O'Brian referenced, I wonder how many overcame their fear of the water and learned how to swim while in the doldrums.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reoccurring Theme Shifts over Time

Points of view are constantly shifting as we grow and experience change. What we do with the new information is directly related to how honest we are with ourselves. 

"Quick Fix" character. 2010.
Good for short term solutions.

Family working together to find
usable solutions. 2011.
Chances are being taken,
but there is a possibility
of long term strength
if you have faith.

Ms. Fix-it, from "Risk Takers" 2013.
She will try to fix anything worthwhile,
no matter how messy the project, even as she
knows she might get hurt in the process.
(Full drawing can be seen in June 5 post.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Harnessing Emotions to Explore the More Difficult Themes

"Bravery by the River Flow"

I find it difficult to point blank produce art about extremely serious topics. One way to get into a topic is to do visual research, searching for photographs that stimulate a response, edify. A second way is more abstract: when one is in an extreme mood, one can harness the feeling to redirect the concentration away from personal topics and into a more universal, though intense, theme. 

Above is a painting just created yesterday using the second method. It has difficult content, but is a relatively safe image to view.

Painting with the red, feeling the intensity of the symbolism of blood or molten lava, honoring the heroes and heroines that have faced blood or disaster in all walks of life, reminded me of a series of tiny gouache paintings I had created years ago, using the first method I mention above, photographic research.

Back in that era I was discovering the horror of the brutality of mankind, and to process this information I began a series on genocide, inspired by documentary photography from politically distressed countries, places I had never traveled up to that point. A few years after producing the series I visited the general location of one of the brutalities I had depicted in paint. I was dumfounded that such an innocently natural terrain (so similar to my own childhood environment) could house the human atrocities I had beheld in the photographs. 

When one makes art about horrible events one wonders about issues of integrity. I really wasn't sure how anyone besides me would view these images. I knew I was honoring the individuals I painted, but I didn't know if this came across to the audience. At a small art showing a friend of a friend bought my most horrifying painting. It depicted a raped young Guatemalan woman, clothed and deceased, her arms crossed over her chest. Her hands had been severed and lay, palm up, at a small distance from the sides of her shoulders. The woman's face was peaceful. This painting was an accurate, though simplified, portrait of a real event in a documentary photograph.

I was so surprised that this piece of art should sell. I didn't ask why at the time. About a year later my friend took me to visit the new owner of the painting. The little painting had been beautifully framed, double matted in a manner that led the eye directly to the image. The painting was hung in direct eyesight, on the kitchen wall. Near all those knives. 

Why?!? I looked sharply at the new owner, who was watching me. She smiled sadly and explained. She was half Guatemalan. Her grandmother had died in a very similar fashion. My little painting was there to help her honor and never forget.

When we are mindful we are all visitors to this woman's kitchen, facing the facts of our own brutality. Or, if we can't go there, at least most of us can see enough "other" to honor the heroism of the stoic souls who are able to wade through very disturbed waters, whether they are fighting for their own causes or for the causes of a larger population. Policemen, highway patrolmen, military, doctors, medics, spiritual guides, even our grandparents battling distressing times. I am constantly amazed by the bravery I see in this world... thus the painting, above.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Painting Yellow, Scanning Yellow, Healing Gold

"Cocooned in Healing Light"

Above is the painting I mentioned working on yesterday. I have quite a few friends bundled up like this right now, dealing with tough issues such as cancer and mental illness. They are of all ages, from 25 to 80. We all could use a good hug from time to time from our friends. During these health reality checks that crash in and surprise us with the hardness of life these hugs (physical or spiritual) can be life savers.

If you know someone who is sick and needs a healing bubble of golden light, feel free to take this image off the web and send it to them. Also, if you want an original tiny painting to send to an ill friend, a painting similar to this perhaps, feel free to email me. I create new ones for free, asking only for the price of packing and shipping to get it to you.

So, here's a surge of golden light to spiritually strengthen the fights for health of Franny, Tanya, Tim, and Doc., all fighting cancer situations.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Golden Work as a Distraction

Someone asked me to do something difficult (not work oriented) for them. Kind of like a go-between action. I did my best, knowing I was probably stepping on toes in the process. Afterwords I had to sit with myself, wondering why I do these help/hurt actions for the benefit/non-benefit of others. It would definitely be easier on me to just turn my head and say, "You're on your own."

What does this have to do with art? Nothing really. But it sure did feel good to receive a new request for help from a different friend.  This person is asking me to paint a little image to cheer up someone important to her who is going through chemotherapy. Now that kind of help doesn't hurt anyone at all! And while I'm painting it I can forget about that other sticky business... concentrating instead on what it feels like to be healing inside a cocoon of healthy, friendly vibes. The illness may be painful, but, ahhh, that warm golden glow of loving friendship trumps all.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Yelps Heard in the Paint

"Lessons by the River Glow"

Not sure if this gouache is finished.
Thinking about who's who here...
Mother, child, heavy slurper, heavy headdress wearer, ear twister, twisted ear bearer, knotted soul, patient soul, timid toe dipper...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On the Other hand...

Maybe one is all that one paints.
Surely one becomes the box when one is acting like a box.
Why not likewise become the box when one paints the box?

(This pondering comes from a boxish corner of a boxish room in a boxish house that is boxed in by fences.)

Is Our Art What We Know?

"Kindness by the River Flow"
Pardon the color ~ the original is slightly more orange in feel. 
Painted about a month ago.
It's a favorite image so
I wasn't going to put it up now, but it helps illustrate
the discussion going on in my head, see below...

A visitor once said, "You paint what you know." A relative once said, "You are too emotional. You paint too emotionally. Stop the emotions."

I have spent the last two years exploring books, art, and life, wondering how those two observations meet. I assume there is an element of truth in both statements.

How can a great wordsmith write about an intense feeling without having felt it before? There are subtle physical details that might be found in medical journals, but to write with resonance it seems logical that the author would have had some personal experience. This translates into visual art as well.

In the above drawing/painting there is an old person, humped over. So far I haven't lived with a humped back, but I've lived with a woman with a humped back. Does this mean that I know what it feels like to have a humped back? Not exactly, but I can use my imagination to get closer to the truth than I could before she moved in.

This gets to the observation above about emotions in the artist and in the art. Zooey Deschanel states that her songs are not about her life, but are rather about emotions that she finds interesting: the lovelorn. She says happy content love is less interesting as a creative topic. She does not want to link her personal life with her professional life. Time will tell whether she is being honest with us and with herself.

Meanwhile I am wondering about which themes in songs are the most successful overall. Is Zooey singing to her audience? Is she singing to her own muse? Is she out of control emotionally? 

This leads one to pondering which themes in visual art are the most successful. Whoa! This makes one travel to different genres and cultures and towns and countries. There are endless answers to this question. Sitting here, back at home, I have Zooey's phrased "happy content love." I have had this most of my adult life. And yet it is a pleasure for me to create pictures that occasionally have intense emotional darkness. In fact, I find it downright boring to create pictures of just an ocean and a hill and pretty flowers. I have nothing against flowers. They inspire me constantly. But for artists of my type, there is not enough meat to them.

Getting back to "you paint what you know," I think perhaps I do know. I also include what I know as having come through books, movies, and observations of others, not just through my own personal experience. And speaking about the second statement, the emotional side of any artist: that intensity of feeling is uncomfortable at times, and can get us in trouble, but to stop the emotions is to wipe out the creative spark. There would no longer be art... just empty paintings of happy times. Totally unsatisfying. 

It is not about stopping emotions... It is instead about guiding sensibilities as best possible. Which is what we all do, really, when we are feeling in the flow of things.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Laughing Out Loud

"Golden Glow on the River Flow"

The art in the first post of this blog was created about four years ago. This "Golden Glow" is what I am creating these days. In between then and now some very tough life events occurred and a lot of letting go (dying) had to happen.

After June's reunion of childhood friends I received the gift of photographs of the people present at the get-together. The photographer, Jim, whom I had never met before, did an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the event, while not glossing over the soul. We are all human beings and living for 50 years makes a few dents in our bodies. Two years ago I wouldn't have gone to that reunion, couldn't have gone, physically or emotionally. But this year I did and the photos of me showed that while I wasn't the brilliant (ha!) person I was 4 years ago, I wasn't decrepit either and indeed was a laughing and responsive person once again. Thank God For That!

I have attempted to keep subjective pathos out of my blog, and out of my art, but an honest artist can't help sneaking a bit of this type of painful emotion in every now and then. Since I've always explored themes around the darker sides of human sensations (I'm forever trying to shine light on this area) I don't think my personal experience was too apparent to the outside. It did show up in my not blogging much during a few months in 2011when I stopped creating colored work for a while. Some artists get more productive when horrendous emotions take over. I stop creativity because I don't feel objective enough.

When I'm not creating I spend my hours, days, months, (hell, sometimes years,) reading books of all sorts that will teach me something I can bring back into my art when I resume creating again. These last two years or so I've enjoyed a lot of laughing and chuckling with a few talented humor writers. I've also stared out my window during the year when I was practically bed-ridden and found figures of nude women in the winter sycamore branches overhead to keep me company. I've fallen in love with all of the old souls who walk by my window day after day, bent-over in semi-grimaces of determination, still trucking on. 

We may be on separate boats but we are all on the same river. We all see the same rock formations. We all have the choice: monster or muse? As a thinker and a creator of images I choose to shine the light on those monsters and add color... and because monsters are usually just unknown or unloved shapes in the dark, the light transforms them into interesting surprises. (Look again at "Golden Glow" above. What does the guy see in that Bryce-like rock formation. It sure made me laugh when I found it!)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fortifying Memories?

The sketch above was created two years ago, and references adult major loss, but lately I've been thinking about how inside every adult there must be buckets of little kid memories affecting the way he/she swims through present day trials and tribulations. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More Memory Art

"Mathematics and Memory"

It appears that I am now making a few pieces of art that refer specifically to people and places in my memories, inspired by the recent childhood reunion in Big Sur. I am not sure who will pop up until the popping happens, so it's all news to me.

I recognize the man on the right as David Lindsley, the "bad boy" 6th-grader who constantly got sent out of class for mouthing off to the teacher. My best memory of him was when I was in 4th grade and thought he was the bravest kid in the world, thus the rock solid column metaphor. He will long survive all of our memories even though his earthly self burned bright and out long ago.

That little girl in red might be me but might just as easily not, as I wasn't thinking me-ness when I drew her. Maybe she's "every girl in Big Sur who spent a lot of time watching others". The figure on the left I recognize as being either Carol Hartman or Amy Bommersbach. They are a year younger than me but had a far easier time than I up at the multiplication blackboard.

I also see Hurricane Point (or maybe it's a hill on the Hill Ranch?) The lower water/sand location might be Pheiffer State Beach. The dancers are clearly the free spirit of many a Big Sur soul. Those fisherman? They could be real or just metaphor.

When I started this painting the first thing I saw in the sub-paint was the back of the boy/man's head you see in the center of the painting. He is clearly a main figure but I can't say exactly who he is. I notice that he is almost disappearing, and isn't as concrete as David. He's also both young and old. Metaphor for transitional memories? People who are but aren't but still are?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Always a Student

"The Student (By the River Flow)"

Speaking of friendliness with water, per my post earlier today, here is the painting that emerged the day after my reunion. Clearly water is a powerful force, but friendly as well.

This is probably a portrait of Heidi Hopkins, although I have no idea of what she was like as a child, she being older than me and of a different social group. She is watchful and thoughtful now, so she must have been likewise then.

The owl inspiration may have come from Heidi, or from Dirk and his wife, who talked of the owls living in the woods surrounding their home. Or maybe they are just from me, because I have been putting a lot of owls in my drawing/paintings lately.

By the way, here's a good read about colorful pioneer-in-combo-with-cultured life on top of those glorious golden hills of Big Sur, back when approximately 250 people lived within a distance of 90 miles from San Simeon to Carmel Highlands... the 1950s and 1960s.

(Update: The painting now lives at the top of the Big Sur mountain described in the book, overlooking the sea far below.)