Category Archives: art

Meanwhile, in the Studio…

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Periphery Project

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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…