Saturday, April 23, 2016

ink: tree with color

Monotype. 13 x 6.5 on BFK.
A morning at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge turned into an afternoon of printmaking.

At the Refuge, I love the natural, beautiful, slow decay of the older trees. Over time, they become "nurse trees" for younger seedlings. This tree was a shell of dry bark holding the shape while the inside was wet and rotting and stunning.

I cannot help but think about my father (who is on my mind a lot these days). His dementia has left him a shell of his former self and now disease is causing further decay on the inside places.

It comforts me to see the tree and think of my father. Life is short. And beautiful. Stunning at the end.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

inky step: cloudscape

Cloudscape.Monotype. 12 x 12

A print studio has a unique atmosphere. Artists stand at various tables, applying and removing ink from plates. The sound of brayers rolling through buttery ink is in the air, along with the smells of the oil-based ink and modifiers. Now and again you can hear the sound of the press bed moving between rollers, the sound of the turning crank, the sound of the lift as the print is pulled. Not many people are talking. We may be a group, but we are obviously individuals, each person follows the siren songs only s/he can hear.

I wanted to play with the idea of edges in this print. What happens at the edge where land and sky meet? How can I describe the soft edges where sky and clouds meet? How can I hold interest when more edges are soft than hard?

You see the result. Ink on. Ink wiped off. More ink on. Ink manipulated with rags and hands and paper. More ink on. Print pulled after it goes through the press.

The final result reminds me of Satie. Space to think and wonder with an undertone of melancholy.

Erik Satie "Gnossienne No.3" transcribed for guitar by Thomas Konigs.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

inky steps

Landscape Monotype, 12 x 12 on BFK

Where do you go to find your way back to inspiration?

My path includes a five day workshop with Bill Park in his Portland studio. It was a perfect time with a small group of artists, two presses, lots of ink and plenty of time to explore this art form.

Over and over, I heard Bill say, "I want to encourage you to ..." He said something different to each of us, but I listened to those gentle words and I felt lifted above stumbling blocks of my own imagining. Lifted and pulled along to my own art making places.

Bob Dylan "Things Have Changed."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

big magic

Shattered. 32 x 29. Mixed media on paper

"Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert is a book I should have read two years ago.

Two years ago, much in my life was upset and my creative energy leaked out. Two years ago, I felt empty. I also felt desperate to get back what was lost. I tried to go back to old ideas and disciplines that used to get me going artistically, but what used to work, no longer did.

It's possible that Gilbert's book would not have resonated with me two years ago. The frantic chatter in my head could have drowned out Gilbert's quietly insistent words.

I hear it now:

Take courage

She has much more to say than that, but for now, it's enough for me to hold on to these pieces and to feel them expanding inside of me.

Elizabeth Gilbert, interview on "Q" about "Big Magic."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

spring forward

Sketch. Ink and watercolor. 9 x 9.

The best part about Spring in the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of flowers. The signs of new life after the dreary stillness of winter is welcome to me."Winter" does not just describe the time of year, but, also describes seasons of life. I feel like I am coming back to Spring after a very long Winter.

Did you know that when the conditions are right, it's possible to see a green flash at sunset? It felt like a beautiful gift to see the green flash last week as I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.If you look closely, you can see the shimmer of green just around the setting yellow sun in the photo above.

I did not do anything to earn the green flash. I just waited with patience and hope. And I watched carefully. My patience was rewarded.

The creative journey is different for every artist. My journey has been interrupted for a while by life. Nothing I planned, but hugely distracting. Aging parents. The arrival of grandchildren. Heartaches. Illnesses. Legal challenges. Economic hardships. Good things and bad. Distractions all.

I feel agitated and frustrated by this, but I know that I cannot force creativity back in to my life. Instead, I have been out in nature because I trust in its healing power. I am doing things like watching the sun set.

Ridgefield NWR
I've taken trips to watch birds at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

Snake River, Idaho.

I watched the slow movement of the Snake River in Idaho and mourned the loss of the huge salmon runs.

Snow outside of Burns, Oregon.
I played in the snow in southeastern Oregon and watched the white snow turn blue and violet in the fading light.

I walked the buttes of Nevada and studied the paths of the waterways in the soft rock.

I am finding my way back to my creative path by going deep into nature. Slowly, I feel myself healing and sorting out a new way. I think I can see the way up ahead.

Monotype. Katherine van Schoonhoven

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.

Lord Byron "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"

Deadman "When the Music's Not Forgotten."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


I have been experimenting with monotype and oil-based inks ever since I got my press up and running. "Trial and error" in my case means a lot of errors, but a few good results, too.

This small piece (5 x 5) comes from beach memories. I love the feel of hiking through the oat grass to the rise of the dune. Just beyond the path is the endless horizon of the Pacific Ocean. And, as I stand there, I can feel my worries shrink and drop away. Life is good at the beach.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Whenever we return from a long trip, I savor the fresh perspective I have when I return home. My vision is clear and I see things more as they are rather than how I wish they were (or how they used to be). Our four months of driving to, from, in, and around Alaska in a motorhome gave me new eyes for looking at home and life.

The first thing I noticed was how much stuff I have. My closets, drawers, shelves, and rooms are full of it. When I tried to put away the first load of clean clothes into already full drawers and closets, I knew I had to do something.

I started to tidy up. Clothes were just the beginning. Then foodstuffs, kitchen utensils, art supplies, all of it. Assess, discard, and clean it up. I have used a modified version of the popular KonMarie method. If you haven't heard of it yet, you can read more about it here.

As I simplified my stuff, I noticed that my drawings were showing signs of simplification, too. Spare and clean, and mostly just pen and ink, my sketchbook drawings look different these days.

It's just possible that in de-cluttering my life from too much stuff, I am also de-cluttering my mind. It shows in my drawings. The spaces and simplicity delight me.

More from Marie Kondo.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

press on

Glen Alps Press
It has been a couple of years since I purchased this big piece of machinery, nicknamed "Orange Crush.". It is set up in my garage, adjacent to my studio, and ready for use. Some things are still in progress, like the amount of strength it takes to move the rollers down so that they touch the bed. The wheels are locked now, but when unlocked, they allow me to move it (with three strong people) in and out of this space. The extra height provides some challenges, though. I am excited to learn how to use this press, and how to find my voice with monotypes.

This press is one of about 50 that were created by Seattle artist, Glen Alps. This one was originally used at the Olympic College in Bremerton, WA.

I still hold my breath when I pull a print.

Wishing you all good things during this holiday season and in the new year. Peace. Health. Light.

A Classical Christmas.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Arrival.1. 20 x 20. Oil on board.  
I am devoting more of my studio time to painting in oil. I enjoy the creamy texture and vibrant color. I am learning the language of oil and playing with how to move it about the painting in ways that interest me.

This painting may be the start of a new series of paintings, but it's still early to tell. Arrivals come in all shapes and meanings. At Thanksgiving, my home was the sight of many arrivals as family joined us to celebrate and feast. Christmas season speaks to another kind of arrival. Much is on my mind, but not organized into words yet. In this case, the images come first.

The Piano Guys "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

Sunday, November 22, 2015


"Company of Women" 25 x 32, acrylic on board

Some of my happiest childhood memories of Thanksgiving include times spent with extended family and gatherings filled with people and food. The women crowded into the kitchen and laughed and bustled, chopped and bumped, and talked and shared. The little girls watched and dreamed of the day when we were grown and knew the kitchen secrets of a happy holiday. The men were often in the den watching football. Later, after dinner, the adults played poker for chips or toothpicks.

Although I did not paint this piece with Thanksgiving in mind,it now reminds me of many good holiday times. In the figures, I women now passed and little girls who have grown into women. Family. I am grateful for the memories.  

I am cultivating a daily habit of giving thanks. I think that a positive, grateful mindset will take me far down the road I want to travel as I age.

Thank you.

"As it Seems" by Lily Kershaw.