Category Archives: art

Aqua Art Fair: Miami Bound

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I am so pleased to tell you that this painting, along with several others, is in Miami with Hang Art, where the Aqua Art Miami Fair begins this evening.

I created large pieces for the fair- the above painting is 36 x 48 inches- and while I was painting and building up the layers I was thinking a lot about the balance between simplicity and complexity. My goal was to find an efficiency in the complexity. These paintings have a bit less layering and more breathing room.

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I found that stripping away some of the busyness made every mark count more. Then I made sure I went over the top with one element, whether it was glitz or scale or luminescence.  I’ve also been falling in love with what’s been happening in the background with the graphite, and I didn’t want that to be lost. As a result, the atmospheric stripes are more prominent in these paintings, and I’m really liking it.

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If you, or anyone you know, are in Miami this week looking at art, stop by the Hang Gallery room at Aqua! They’re showing work of gallery artists who’s work deals with light and reflection, and I think it will be a fabulous showing.

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!