Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Periphery Project

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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…

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

Ebb and Flow

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I’ve been sensitive to the rhythm of my work lately. More so than usual. I think it’s because I’m pushing out in a few directions beyond my habitual territory—photographing more, drawing, experimenting with new mediums—and it’s uncomfortable. Starting something new is exciting, yes, but it’s also emotionally difficult.

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An idea is only a beginning, and what follows the initial rush is usually heavy with failed attempts, self doubt, resistance, and moments of profound lethargy. Sometimes, if I am persistent, this awfulness is followed by hints of something good. This stage is filled with intuitive changes of approach. If I keep going at it, the cycle of thought and action come together with integrity, and a new direction emerges. Then I know it’s time to get up and run with it. Until then, it’s a bit like wading through deep mud.

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These ups and downs…I’m starting to embrace the idea that this is just part of the ebb and flow. Adding new things to my creative practice also shakes up my routines, and I find myself re-negotiating my work rhythms, both energetically and emotionally. For instance, I have to be rigorously honest with myself about the difference between procrastination and giving a certain work some space to settle or develop.

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When I’m trying new things, procrastination turns into a proper noun. Meet Procrastination, capital “P”. It takes a lot of self-honesty and dedication to have any kind of creative practice. Add fear and doubt to the mix, and Procrastination, and it’s evil twin, Resistance, become my constant companions. So I am daily having to tell them to piss off. I’ve got work to do.

 

Latest and Greatest

It’s been a while since I wrote here in this space, but I wanted to share a few upcoming events with you… the first is a brief artist talk I’m giving this Sunday:

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This is very casual and fun, a quick thing to drop into on Sunday afternoon. If you are in the area, come by and say hello!

The second announcement is that I am teaching a second 3-day class this year at Wax Works West. In my classes, I focus on control, layering, and transparency, and my students have a lot of time to practice and work in the super supportive environment that Judy and Wendy provide. I know this seems that this is really far in advance to be announcing this but my prior classes have filled fast, so if you are interested in joining us, don’t hesitate- check out their website schedule.

Maybe I’ll see you soon…
Lisa

 

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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More On Uncertainty

sketchesI came across a great quote by Henry Miller that alludes to uncertainty, though Miller uses different terms.  I knew I had to share it here.  The life preserver analogy is especially powerful to me; again, no risk, no art.

“I had to learn to think, feel, and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world.  I had to throw myself into the current, knowing that I would probably sink.  The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them.  Nobody can drown in the ocean of reality who voluntarily gives himself up to the experience.  Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring, through obeying the blind urge.”
–Henry Miller

*Quote via Brain Pickings.