Meanwhile, in the Studio…


I’ve created several distinct bodies of work over the last couple of decades, and yet,  when I am making a change, or even just a shift, in my work, it is still both uncomfortable and exciting. It’s easy to embrace the excitement, but I still want to hide the fear and resistance. So here I am, outing myself (and maybe starting a conversation, see below). Sometimes the fear and resistance feels like bees buzzing under my skin, and other times it feels like a dull wall in my mind. But I really think the fear is a good sign, and that I might want to be concerned if it went away completely, because it’s an indication that I’m working against comfort and toward something new.


The process takes persistence, because usually I try a lot of things that don’t work. Sometimes I rewind and start over again, and other times I keep pushing forward, even if I don’t like it, just to see if something new will come from it. I’ve discovered and refined processes and techniques that came originally from making “mistakes”, too, so I try to not think of it that way. I tell myself it’s all just action. Some of it leads to art I like and some of it does not.


The detail above is from a painting that is proving elusive. I just don’t know where it’s going, or what it needs next. I’m trying to find new solutions, and let the Periphery Walks influence this new group of paintings, so I’m trying hard not to indulge in old solutions. That is just too easy. I know if I just trust this process and keep going, the new solutions will arrive.

So that’s it–that’s where I’m at in the studio right now. It’s a bit of a mess, and I’m not sure where I’m going, but I’ll get there. So my question to you is: Do you struggle with starting new bodies of work or do you love it, and in either case, how do you approach it?

*All of these photos were taken in my studio this afternoon, and are a typical snapshot of what it looks like when I have new work developing… Lots of things started, a big sprawling mess, and not a lot finished.

*I started this blog post the other day, and have since then finished a couple of these. If you are interested, check out my Instagram account.

Periphery Project


The last few weeks, I finished walking the stretch of South San Francisco shoreline and started back at Hwy 92, heading south from there. I’m still kind of catching up here with the images, and after this I think I’ll try to post at the end of each week with my favorites from that week’s walk. I’m still fumbling around in the studio, establishing my parameters with new work, and learning how these walks are influencing my painting and drawing. I’ll try to post later this week and let you see what that looks like (hint: it’s a mess). Until then, some photos…


The photograph above was taken from the empty Candlestick Park parking lot, facing northeast…


RIP Candlestick. I did not grow up going to games there, so I don’t have any attachment to the place or structure, but it was fascinating and a little sad, standing in the adjacent field, watching the demolition. Every now and then, a cloud of white particulate would rise from the center, like smoke. This area next to the bay is going to change a lot in the next few years. For now, it is an exceptionally quiet stretch of Bay Trail. A little unnerving, really, with a sense of abandonment.


Back in Foster City last week I walked a few miles of mud flats and tidal inlets.


Some sections of the trail seem bland and unexceptional, but I am always surprised by the texture and color that are there if I slow down to notice.


And of course this, constantly, overhead. Airplanes tracing diagonal likes across the sky. This week I’ll be picking up where I left off and walking in Redwood City. Have a fantastic week!

The Periphery Project


For the handful of you that follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my #peripheryproject hashtag… and probably wondered what I’m up to. I’m so excited to tell you about this project! You all know that I paint. And those of you who know me personally know that I walk. A lot.



As of this year, I’ve been painting for 25 years. I’ve been reflecting lately on the continuities in my practice over the years. I’ve been examining what has worked for me and what hasn’t. I’ve been making art long enough now so that I’m finally starting to really feel that I know what I’m about, and what my work is about and what keeps me coming back to it. Like many other people, I don’t process much of anything without moving. And let’s face it, art practice takes a lot of processing. So when I walk, it really feeds my practice. Walking, for me, is like art fertilizer.


For the past several years, most of my walking has centered around where I live, and I’m lucky to live in a beautiful place, with lots of open space–fields and bluffs stretching to the ocean. And the work I’ve produced for about 5 years has centered on the light and atmosphere here, and those walks. I’ve written about this here quite a lot. Consistency and repetition are important. I like to visit my subject (location) repeatedly, from different angles and times of day, in varying light and weather. I want to get to know it, to discover it’s secrets, and feel that I have inhabited it, and it has inhabited me. This is where so much of my work has come from, for at least the last 20 years. This is one of my consistent threads, one of my continuities.


Which leads me to The Periphery Project. In 2013, I ordered a set of Bay Trail maps, and thought to myself, “how cool would it be to walk around the entire San Francisco bay?”. This year I decided to finally start. So far, I’ve been walking each week, several miles each time, and I figure it will take me about two years to walk around the bay. The trail is not contiguous; there are stretches that are not accessible. But even so, it covers 270 miles of the bay shore. I think I need to buy myself new walking shoes!


Each time I go out, I take photographs. The photographs serve as a record of what I notice, and even though I don’t directly use photos as the subject matter for my paintings, they do influence my compositions and color choices and at times certain shapes or geometries from my photos will make their way into paintings. They are complimentary; the relationship is reciprocal. I am already starting new paintings in the studio that are inspired by what I’m seeing along the trail. Stay tuned here for more about this project, and you can always follow along on my Instagram, for trail pictures, as well as works in progress and whatever else I’m noticing and photographing in my world.

*All photos taken on the western shore of the Bay Trail between the San Mateo Bridge and Oyster Point with my iphone.

Teaching Events in 2015


Many people write and ask me if I teach. For a long time, I had to say no, since my teensy-tiny studio is just not big enough for me to even offer private lessons. But the last year or two, I’ve been teaching at a wonderful teaching studio: Wax Works West. This is a fantastic space to teach and learn in, and Judy and Wendy, the artists who own the studio, are so funny, knowledgeable, and kind.


Wax Works studio, ready to go..


I enjoy teaching. I like sharing what I know, and learning from my students, and I love it when someone emails me after and tells me that the techniques I shared are making a difference for them in the studio.

Two weekends ago, I taught my 3-day class, “Precision, Layering and Clarity”, and I’ll be teaching it again in June. This class offers in-depth instruction in working with smooth, transparent layers, and how to better control techniques such as intarsia and stenciling.  Many of my students spend time refining their fusing techniques, and I help them troubleshoot what I call “puddle syndrome”. That’s when you over-fuse, blowing out your imagery in the process. (Yup, happens to everyone)

I’ll also be teaching a new class in December, just in time to add a little fun and shine for the dark of winter: “Encaustic Bling”. In this 2-day class, I’ll be focusing on reflective surface work, incorporating materials such as metallic encaustic paint, glitter, heat transfer paper, mica, etc. It will be a lot of fun. I hope you can join me!

Looking Back: 2014

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Only press on: no feeling is final.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Book of Hours


At the beginning of every year, I like to take a look backward at the previous year before looking forward. Last year, I said that 2013 was weird. 2014 kicked my ass. Things, as they say, got real. Winter is always a time of introspection and generation for me, and it’s in this spirit that I offer this look back:

  • We kicked off the new year with excitement about my father’s heart transplant. It was successful, and his recovery was strong. My parents lived with us during his early recovery, and I was able to have lots of quality time with both my mom and my dad. What a gift.
  • I continued to teach, and I even took a class myself, with Laura Moriarty. It was such a treat to be a student again, and to use wax in ways so different from my own. I’ll be learning more from others in 2015.
  • My son and I visited schools in Southern California. I can hardly believe he’ll be going to college in the fall.
  • I took a wonderful trip to New York in July with my husband James, and some really fun friends. Walked the high line. Checked out the gallery scene in the lower east side. Walked the Brooklyn Bridge, drank too much coffee, and generally had a fantastic time.
  • I started drawing again. I drew and painted a series of 50 tiny images in 50 days.
  • Started running again, after a break of many years. I had forgotten how much I love it.
  • In August, a sad thing:  my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly from an embolism.


Okay, I just sat here for half an hour lost in thought while the cursor blinked on the screen. What can I say? Most people I know have lost someone close to them, and a lot of my friends have lost parents, so I don’t feel alone in this experience at all. For me, it felt as though I’d tripped and fallen into a very deep dark hole for several weeks. Reality felt a little slick, and time seemed to slow down for a few months. There was a lot of business to attend to, and family to check in with, and my mom to worry about.

And then, slowly, things returned to sorta-normal.

But they haven’t, not really. And that’s where the lines from the poem above come in. My main message to myself throughout this ordeal was the same one I try to hold with making art: Stay with yourself. Stay with the moment. Pay attention. It’s all okay. It all passes by, and we come out the other end. We are rarely the same person, though, if we are really paying attention. I see that as a good thing. I’m still sad sometimes, and I miss my dad, but I feel more settled in myself as well- more present in my mind, more attached to my bones, with more gravity in my heart.

Life (and art) changes us, if we let it.

Aqua Art Fair: Miami Bound


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.



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.



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.


IMG_3481 That’s a tall stack of potential. I’m so excited to dig into this bundle of mini-panels. They measure just 6 x 6 inches. Fifty of them. When I first started writing this blog in 2008 (has it really been that long?!), I started a similar project. I’d taken a break from working with encaustic and wanted to start again. How to incubate the new ideas I had in mind?

We had a piece of smooth plywood leftover from a house project, so I asked a friend if he’d cut it up for me on his table saw. The result was 36 eight-inch panels to experiment with. Over the course of working those 36 panels, my ideas were tried, edited, and developed. A whole body of larger works grew out of that series of tiny paintings.

I’ve been drawing experimentally this past year, and am continuing on these panels. Silverpoint and water media on gesso. I’m going to gesso all of them today, and work on all fifty at the same time, rotating around as intuition dictates, and see what happens.

This is a wonderful way to explore a new medium or idea, to play around without committing very much space or time or materials. I highly recommend this approach. Last time I did it, I went from this….


To this…


To this…


I just never know where it’s going to take me.