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!

Painting for show in May

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Working hard on paintings for an upcoming 2-person show in May at Hang Art in San Francisco.  This series of paintings continues to move forward, and continues to inspire me with new veins of ideas and symbols.  The paintings always refer back to the experience of being outside, in nature, in the open air, in all seasons and weather.

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I’ll post more information about the show later… so stay tuned.

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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!

A Contribution

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At the close of 2012, I find myself grateful for my and my family’s health and all of the goodness that has come my way this year.  It has been a year of big shifts, subtle changes in perspective, and a deepening of my art practice.  I am so grateful for generous friends, supportive family, and the opportunity to share what I do and learn from others through my relationships, the galleries that represent my work, and through online communities.

I want to say thank you to every single one of you who take the time to come here and read my occasional posts and updates.

I think it’s a great time to share this link with you, part of my online community… it’s a contribution to the diverse, enthusiastic, occasionally snarky, and certainly generous online painting community that I am lucky to find myself a part of.  You’ll also find the link in my sidebar.  It will take you to the packing and shipping website that I developed in 2011 with Larraine Seiden, which until now was only available through the IEA website.  It was written to accompany a presentation we gave at the Portland IEA retreat about packing and shipping encaustic work.

Disclaimer:  It’s not a definitive work- I’m sure that many of you will find new tricks and tips, and many of you will find faults or disagree with some of the methods.  But it is a good starting point, and offers a lot of basic information about shipping encaustic work along with some methods for building custom boxes, cuffs, and insulated shipping crates.  I hope that you find something new there that takes away a bit of the anxiety we all feel when hauling our precious work down to FedEx or UPS.

Please feel free to leave additional information and experience in the comments sections of the various pages…it was our hope that our readers would use and contribute to the website, expanding it’s scope by means of our collective experience!  However, I won’t have a lot of time to respond to individual comments or questions from that site right now.

I hope all of you out there are having an excellent holiday season… here’s looking forward to 2013!

New Work: December 2012

Cloud_Index_2_900p_kairosHere 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_900p_kairosPrecipitation, 24 x 24 inches.

Fennel_After_Rain_800p_kairosFennel After Rain, 12 x 12 inches.

Cloud_Index_1_900p_kairosCloud Index #1, 18 x 18 inches.

Storm_Warning_800p_kairosStorm Warning, 12 x 12 inches.

september_light_800p_kairosSeptember Light, 12 x 12 inches.

Mustard_In_Fog_800p_kairosMustard 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.