That’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.
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.
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…
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.
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”, Encaustic mixed media, 30 x 60 in.
“Tule Fog #3: I-5″, Encaustic mixed media, 24 x 48 in.
“Tule Fog: I-5″, Encaustic mixed media, 17 x 34 in.
Hope you can stop by and see them!
Here is some new work , just finished last week. These are all on the small side for me–all under 24 inches. It’s a challenge, now, for me to work small after working larger for most of last year. I have some larger panels waiting for me in the studio, though, and I’m excited to take some of these ideas into the larger formats.
Above: Cloud Index #2, 24 x 24 inches.
Precipitation, 24 x 24 inches.
Fennel After Rain, 12 x 12 inches.
Cloud Index #1, 18 x 18 inches.
Storm Warning, 12 x 12 inches.
September Light, 12 x 12 inches.
Mustard in Fog, 12 x 12 inches.
By the way, Cloud Index #1, Cloud Index #2, and Precipitation will all be available at Hang Gallery in San Francisco.
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.
Here’s another view of my studio work table…
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…
Still working on this large piece… nearing the end, I think.