Category Archives: art

Keepers

ReallyGoodPaintingThat’s my husband’s commentary up there. Love it. Is it a keeper? I think so.

Someone a long time ago gave me this advice: when you develop a body of work, pick out at least one piece to keep for yourself, for your own collection. I haven’t always felt that I’ve had the luxury of taking this advice, always feeling a bit desperate about having enough work to satisfy the requirements for a show, or fretting that keeping the “best one” will prevent a sale…

But really, the best one? That’s such a subjective thing. So often, a painting that I’m not so sure about, or the one I think is too minimal, or the one that makes me a bit uncomfortable- that’s the one someone loves.  So you just never know.

So I’m just not going to worry about it anymore. I’m keeping this one for myself.

A Good Mess

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There is, I think, loads of potential in being up to one’s elbows in a good mess. I’m not talking about the kind of mess visited upon you on a late Sunday afternoon when the last thing you want to do is clean up, but a weekend of neglect and fun and living has resulted in sticky mugs adhered to the coffee table and muddy shoes piled by the front door, dirty dishes in the sink, and wild tumbleweeds of dog hair blowing gently along the floor (ahem)…let’s call that a lazy mess.

No, I’m talking about creative mess, which is another thing altogether.  Well, it still might result in a pile of dirty sticky coffee cups, yes, but it’s also evidence of being busy and productive, of being in the moment, caught up, and just going with it, not stopping to worry about it. There is a kind of bravado to it.

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My studio cycles through this state several times a year, the sedimentary clutter building up until I don’t even remember what’s at the bottom, everything covered in a fine coat of graphite and glitter and paint. And where did I put that scraper?!

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Things, I admit, can get a little dysfunctional at the tail end of it. Then I’m ready to take a few hours and sift through, wiping things down, putting things away, rediscovering things, rearranging, scraping wax off most surfaces, shepherding spiders out the door.

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So, this is a different kind of potential, isn’t it?  Like a deep calming breath, a pause. The potential of a clear workbench, organized paints, the windows washed, and the graphite found. (Still need to whitewash that wall, though!)

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Ready for the next mess.

Looking Forward 2014

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This morning I walked past my open green waste bin and the discarded flowers that lay at the top caught my eye.  I threw them out last night and they were rained on a bit.

If my last post was about looking backward, this one is about looking forward. January has been such a lovely month.  I don’t really do new years resolutions, but I usually do a big studio clean, take inventory of my life, and make some plans, set some goals.  That sort of thing.  So in that spirit, I’ll share some of my thoughts/aspirations for 2014:

  • Steer myself out of ruts, and try new things.  Small things, certainly.  Large things, hopefully.
  • Draw more.
  • Stay present.
  • Take some road trips with my son.
  • Read more books.
  • Slow down and notice beauty in unexpected places. See above photo.
  • Write more.
  • Experiment more in the studio.

Looking forward…

A Look Back: 2013

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Oh, 2013, you were a weird one. You had your good moments, to be sure, your elevated events and small everyday joys. But you were also moody and difficult.  Hard to anticipate. Unpredictable.

I did not write here a lot in 2013. I did not feel focused enough to write here very often. My energies were spinning off in different directions. It felt like enough to just focus on my studio practice and hold my shit (mostly) together. Yet still, people came and visited.  I spoke to a few of you who read what I write here, and you let me know that it’s valuable to you. That is gratifying to hear, as I often feel like I am hurling words and images into the void…

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So, in the spirit of looking back and catching up, I present to you 2013, in brief.

  • After a hopeful post-heart attack recovery in 2012, watched as my father’s health started to fail.
  • Helped my parents move when his care was moved to UCSF and he was given a place in a heart study. He received a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) that helped his heart pump and alleviated the worst of his heart failure.
  • Found some balance between letting go of my (college and high school age) children and listening/being present/giving help when they needed it.  It’s a moving target. It’s a dance.
  • Moved toward abstraction. I created my first entirely abstract group of paintings. So much harder than figuration. So much less to hold on to.
  • Took an overnight field trip by myself to photograph in Northern California. Wandered for two days on rural roads with numbers instead of names. Saw a dead coyote nailed to a telephone pole and realized I was really in the sticks. Came back with lots of new material to think about and paint about.
  • Taught two classes at Wax Works West in Santa Cruz. Had a ton of fun doing it. Will do it again.
  • Finished a certificate in technical writing. Spent a few months working part time at writing and graphics. Felt like I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Wondered why I was so stressed. Wondered why I wasn’t painting more. Started grinding my teeth.
  • Wanted to draw. Terrified to draw. Did not draw.
  • Didn’t paint for weeks on end. Did nothing but paint for weeks on end. Continued like that throughout the year. Stop and go-go-go.
  • Started re-designing my website. Still redesigning my website.
  • Had my first “real” solo show in 20 years as part of the visiting artist program at R&F Paints. Taught a 3-day workshop there and thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Kingston. Thank you, R&F!
  • Froze my ass off in NYC while I visited with great friends, drank gallons of coffee, explored Brooklyn a bit, and said hello to the Vermeers at the Frick Collection.
  • Finally remodeled the 1970’s “Tahoe Style” family room that came with our house. Whew!
  • I cut back on coffee and decided to just focus on my family and my artwork in 2014. Started exercising again. Felt better.
  • My father was placed on a heart transplant list late in the year.
  • The day after Christmas, the phone call: we have a heart. 24 hours later, that healthy strong heart beat in my father’s chest. I’m still trying to get my head around this gift. The amazing humanity, sacrifice, and science of it. Being by my parents’ sides as they’ve gone through this has been one of the most moving things I’ve experienced. A month on now, and my dad’s recovery is strong.

So long 2013… hello, 2014!

PS: The images above were taken on that field trip I mentioned. The land and water glowed at sunset.

Show in San Francisco

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I’ll have brand-spankin-new paintings on view for the first part of May at Hang Art in San Francisco alongside Fain Hancock’s lovely work.  I’ll be at the opening tonight, so anyone in the area for First Thursday gallery openings, stop on in and say hello!

I’ll share a few of my favorite paintings here for those of you who can’t go to the gallery to see them.

woodsmoke_and_sunshine_small_kairos“Woodsmoke and Sunshine”, Encaustic mixed media, 30 x 60 in.

tule_fog_3_small_kairos“Tule Fog #3: I-5″, Encaustic mixed media, 24 x 48 in.

TulleFog-I-5_small_kairos“Tule Fog: I-5″,  Encaustic mixed media, 17 x 34 in.

Hope you can stop by and see them!

Double Life, and a Studio Clean-Up

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January is just whizzing by me.  Surely, time moves faster as you chase it.  And I feel as if I have been chasing it, with so much to do, and trying to fit it all in.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to just stop, and breathe.  And slow down the moment.  And pay attention.

For months now, I’ve been simultaneously preparing for war and peace, so to speak. ( I think it’s an Einstein quote, and he actually said, ” You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”)    For about a year, now, I’ve been going to school part time to complete a certificate in technical writing.  I’ve also been trying to increase my hours in the studio, ramping up my practice, trying to make a go of being a full-time artist.  The sensible fall back plan, and the big dream.  I feel like every day I get up and just throw myself at it all.  There is rarely a sense of completion, because there is always something more to do.  I just keep setting little goals, and moving forward.  Inch. By. Inch.

There are financial pressures.  I don’t know if the artwork can answer them. It seems to be gaining traction, but I have to wait and see how it all shakes out.  I really want to be able to jump in with both feet into… something.  But for now, I must simultaneously prevent and prepare.

Painting and technical writing might seem at odds with one another.  And it does feel like I’m living two lives, or preparing for two futures, or even two potential selves, sometimes. Each activity exploits different parts of my personality.  But the two things also compliment one another in remarkable ways.  When I was working my way through my foundation technical writing courses, I was struck with how the skills I was learning could be directly applied to all of the writing that I am required to do as an artist- statements, bios, website copy, etc.  Active voice, defining audience, elegance, efficiency, specific language, direct style.  My studio notebook has become my constant companion, and I’ve learned to just get it all down, and edit later.  My editing class sharpened my attention and further developed my appreciation for brevity and specificity in my painting practice.

Right now, I’m taking a course in Information Graphics, and I find myself asking different questions in the studio.  Questions like “What is the question that the work answers?” and “How do I shape the data to answer the question?”.  It’s all pretty interesting stuff.

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One of the things I always do in January is clean my studio, and this year was no exception.  I also tried to create a “clean” area, over to the right, for a drawing space.  I’m trying to have a corner that isn’t covered in wax and paint splatters! (I know–good luck!) I’ve also added the memory foam mat on the floor, because all the standing takes it’s toll.  If you don’t have one of these in the studio, get thee to thy computer, and order one.  They are heaven.

Well, then, back to work!  I have a data set to download, and some paper cutting to do!

Works In Progress

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I’ve been hard at work in the studio.  Here is a look at a larger piece in progress, and some small pieces lined up.  The small pieces were a challenge for me (they are 8″ x 10″), because I really prefer to work larger.  I think my paintings are generally more successful on a large scale, but this time around I tried approaching the small work a little differently.  I treated each as if it were a small, experimental piece of jewelry.  I found that taking this approach naturally adjusted the scale that I worked at, and kept me from trying to jam in too much imagery, a common problem for me when I try to work small.  These six pieces will be available at Hang Gallery in December.

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Here’s another view of my studio work table…

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This is something I often do, especially when I am trying something new.  I’ll find a way to “mock up” the next element in a painting.  This is especially valuable to me because when I start a painting, I only have a vague idea of where I want it to go, and often it takes me someplace completely different.  And because I’m always working in transparencies, allowing each layer to show as I build the image, it is especially important to me that I respond to the image by adding each layer in the most aware, informed way possible.  By trying out different elements before adding them to the painting, I can be a little more efficient, and often this process leads to innovations that I may not have thought of otherwise.  It also allows me to make little adjustments, sometimes minute, that make a big difference in the compositions.  These yellow circles may or may not be added- I haven’t decided yet.

Overall, I’m having a productive month in the studio so far…

Blog Makeover, and Other New Stuff

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I’ve been fiddling with this blog pretty much non-stop for a few days.  Isn’t it so much nicer around here?? I didn’t even like to look at my blog before, but now I love it. I figured that if I’m going to be sharing and writing here more, I’d better make it a space that I actually like.

I’ve also added a lot of content on the periphery.  Here are some changes that you might not notice right away:

  • I’ve listed upcoming teaching gigs in the navigation bar.
  • There is now a drop-down menu above that acts like a mini gallery page with some examples of my work.
  • Click on the “Hang Gallery” button in the sidebar to see where you can view or purchase my work.  Hang Gallery is also listed in the navigation bar under “Representation”.  By the way, they are some of the most friendly, kind gallery people I have ever met.  Worth a visit if you are in San Francisco.
  • I am very excited to share all of the links and book suggestions listed under “Inspiration” in the navigation menu.  I am obsessed with process, so I love to peek into other creator’s lives and I gain so much insight from reading about the psychology and process of creating.  Make yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy these links and books.  If you have favorite websites or books to share, leave a link in the comments.
  • “New Work” in the sidebar will take you to my website.
  • Click on “About” to read a little about me and what my work is about.

And yes, more is coming.  I will add content to “Projects” as that takes shape.  I have packing and shipping information that I’d like to add to the sidebar.  I also have a writing project that I’m working on, but that will have to wait a while…

As always, thanks for reading!
Lisa

Upcoming Encaustic Show…

I am so pleased to be included in this upcoming group show.  Thomas Morphis has done an excellent job of curating this;  each artist is distinct, and the show promises to have great variety and texture!  I’m looking forward to seeing it myself Saturday night at the opening.

Mary Black

Robin Denevan

Eileen P. Goldenberg

Lisa Kairos

Opening Reception:  7-9 pm, Saturday, January 15

The gallery is open Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, 1-5 pm, and the show runs until Feb. 12.