Sunday, April 2, 2017

jump in to joy

Jump In. 22 x 22. Acrylic.

Some days I have an inner dialogue that sounds like a game of "Twenty Questions."

Is it real?

Does it matter?

Is it enough to jump into the joy and not ask for more?

This Marble Machine music brings up the same questions.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

what would happen if ...

Moving On. 20 x 20. Acrylic and mixed media on paper.
I can not force creativity to come. I can only quiet my mind and enter my studio with the spirit of play and the words "what would happen if..." on my lips.

Loreena McKennett "To Drive the Cold Winter Away."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

color lift

Throughout the day, I dodge news like it is the flu and I am a germ-a-phobe. When I do tune in, I am distressed. Distress upon distress. It weighs me down like a lead jumpsuit.

Today I went out to the studio and played with color. Color and pattern. I had no agenda except to lift my mood.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fairbanks in January

Fairbanks sunrise at 10:30 am.

After spending the summer of 2015 exploring the interior of Alaska, my husband and I speculated on what it might be like in the winter. And did we want to experience it first hand? In the end, curiosity won out and we flew in to Fairbanks for a short winter visit.

Our arrival coincided with a bit of record cold weather in Fairbanks. When we landed, the pilot announced cheerfully that Fairbanks was MINUS 39 degrees. No wind chill. Just cold.

Minus 39 degrees is the coldest weather I have ever experienced in my lifetime. It was so cold that it hurt to take a breath. So cold that the liquid in my eyes started to freeze, making blinking a chore. So cold that a sniffle became a solid icicle before it could drip off the tip of a nose. 

At these temperatures, if you leave a car in a parking lot for longer than two hours, you had better make sure you have plugged it in or it will not start when you go back out. Parking lots have stands of outlets and every car has a plug sticking out of the front grate.

The University of Alaska at Fairbanks has on its campus the amazing Museum of the North. The museum is a celebration of Alaska history and culture plus an art museum. 

The Museum of the North (MON) has a large collection of Native Alaskan art (contemporary and old) plus many other pieces of note. Here are a few of my favorites from this visit.

Sara Tabbert, wood carving

This wood carving is by Fairbanks artist, Sara Tabbert. Her work is vibrant and hopeful and some day I hope to own one. You can read and see more about her here. This video plays in the museum and gives a good sense of the artist and her work.

Claire Feyes, oil painting

Claire Feyes is another Alaska artist whose work is captivating. While not a Native Alaskan herself, she fell in love with the land and the people in the land. Here is a documentary about her life and work. I enjoy the simple shapes and sense of community she depicts.

John Hoover, wood carving and sculpture

John Hoover's work stands out as Native Alaskan (his mother was Aleut, his father Dutch) and yet completely contemporary. I remember seeing some of his work in Seattle, as well as in Anchorage.

It is refreshing to take time to step away from the normal routines of daily life and explore something different. For me, this trip to Fairbanks allows me to change the channel of negative and anxious thinking to things that are hopeful and beautiful and lovely.

Fairbanks in the winter is beautiful, but I admit that I am happy to be home to PLUS 39 degrees!

"Homeward Bound" Paul Simon and George Harrison.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

keeping positive

Live Large. 36 x 36. Acrylic on cradled panel.  

It's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the negativity in the news these days. Frequently, I find myself ready to give up or to scream and I know that I need to change the channel or/and unplug and relax my brain. After all, getting upset does not accomplish anything positive.

Even with my painting, I am changing channels and figuring out ways to relax and unplug from all of the stuff in my head. Music helps.

See if you feel better after you listen to Norah Jones singing "Sunrise."

Sunday, January 8, 2017

looking ahead

Tulips. Monotype. 12 x 12.

If you are anything like me, you settle in to the new year with some cleaning up kinds of projects. Put away holiday lights and decorations. Sort through cards and save some and discard others. Write thank you notes. Take down 2016 calendars and hang new 2017 calendars in their place.

It is difficult to enter a creative mindset with all of the upheaval in our country. At times, it is next to impossible. I go out to the studio, but only manage to clean and putter around making little color swatches or reading something in a book.

But, on some days, I charge into the studio with my juices flowing and I experience again the rush of life breath from creating something new. The monotype, "Tulips", happened on one of those days. They are a reminder to me of what is beautiful, and hope-filled.

Friends. Monotype. 12 x 12.

This piece, "Friends," came from my reflection on the joy I feel when I am with people who know and care about me. Friends lift and inspire and keep me connected to what's important.

Looking ahead to a new year, I will be more involved politically and more active in my personal exercises of freedoms. I will continue to put myself in the studio and express what concerns me, both on paper and here in the world. And I will continue to share music that means much to me with the hope that it will find resonance in you.

As this little sign in my studio says, "Don't look back, you're not going that way."

This YouTube video touched me deeply. My father died in the Spring of 2016, and I think of him often. I know that he would have loved this kind of thing. Who wouldn't? The Piano Guys Charlie Brown Medly.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

shell shock

Sketchbook page. 9 x 9. Ink and watercolor.

It is just days after November 8, 2016, and the outcome from the presidential race still has me numb with shock. More than feeling sad that my choice (Hillary Clinton) did not win, I am overwhelmed with sadness and despair for our country. President-Elect Donald Trump campaigned on fear and hatred. His character of disrespect and violence shone through in the ways he spoke and acted in this last 18 months of our attention and his national stage. And millions of Americans voted for him.

I am sick.

As the title of this post suggests, it feels like shell shock.

    Shell shock is term coined to describe the reaction of some soldiers in World War I to the trauma of battle. It is reaction to the intensity of the bombardment and fighting that produced a helplessness appearing variously as panic and being scared, or flight, an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk. -- Wikipedia

Oyster. Monotype. 12 x 12.
 While the election cycle was not at all like the horrors the soldiers saw during World War I, it brought its own share of horrors. "Shell shock" seems fitting for this election experience. All it takes is to listen to my friends who are immigrants, minorities, LGBT, female, disabled, dependent of medical insurance they finally got by virtue of the Affordable Care Act.

Abalone. Monotype. 12 x 12
Once the overwhelming sadness and numbness passes, I will sort out for myself how I will live in positive and courageous ways for the four years of President Trump's term. I genuinely HOPE that his will be a good presidency and that the people in our country will live well under his leadership. All of the people of this country.

In the meantime, I grieve. And I look for beauty and nature and kindness and love and life. For now, it's the best I can do.

Great Blue Heron at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

 I know that I am not the only dreamer, but peace seems very far away.


Monday, October 17, 2016

easy living in the summer

Watery Way, 9 x 12, alcohol ink on Yupo  
For me, summer months usually mean time on the waters of Puget Sound on a boat. It was a thoughtful time, a time for thinking and writing, for looking at light and color and shapes, and for relaxing into a meditation that is all about water.

The painting above is an abstract reflection on our meandering path on the Salish Sea.

Monotype, 12 x 12, Gamblin Intense Cool Black on Rives BFK paper
The monotype above is more specific, but still abstract in a sense. The way light pulls across the water fascinates me and I never tire of looking for the patterns and rhythms of interlocking shapes.

Me, playing the public piano at Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes
When we pulled into the Cap Sante Marina to provision, I was delighted to discover a public piano at the top of the dock. It wasn't until after we'd gotten our groceries and loaded them back on the boat that I had a chance to come back and play. What else? "Summertime."

Here's Norah Jones playing and singing. The livin' is easy in the summertime.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

ink: waterfalls

Monotype with pastel, 13 x 6.5

I was eight years old and for my birthday, I received a Kodak Instamatic camera as a gift from my parents. I was thrilled. It had a square "cube" flash for indoor shots. I took a lot of outdoor shots with it. Of my siblings. Of my friends. Of our dog.

Only a couple of months after my birthday, our family took a summer vacation to Yosemite National Park. I took my first serious landscape photographs during that vacation. What I remember most is Yosemite Falls. I was entranced. Especially when we played in the cold water at the base of the lower falls. It tasted sweet and was cool and clear.

As an adult, I am more familiar with Ansel Adams photos of the park and the falls than I am of my own images. But, in one of my early photo albums are my square photos of Yellowstone Falls. I was there. It made an impression.

As I explore more with monotype and ask myself about what inspires me in the landscape, I come back to water again. This time waterfalls.

Monotype with pastel. 12 x 12.

The two images above are monotype prints done with Gamblin Portland Cool Black ink and run through my Glen Alps Press. After the ink dried, I went back into the images with pastel. Why? I was curious to see the effect.

Black and white, without pastel color added, still holds the most drama. The print below is an abstraction of Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. Multnomah Falls have such popular appeal, many visitors go there in the summer months. Crowds of people. I prefer to go in the less popular months.

Monotype. 12 x 12.
Native American legends explain that the falls were created to woo a Princess and to allow her to bathe in privacy. The falls resemble her flowing hair. I thought of her hair as I worked on this print.

Ikea purchase metal cable with hanging clips.

At Ikea, I discovered an inexpensive and effective system for hanging my prints in the studio. A thin, wire cable is suspended between metal supports and small clips hang from the cable, like clothes pins on a clothes line. It gives me a way to look at the prints from a distance.

Detail of the cable and holder.

Detail of the hanging clip and cable.

I enjoy NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts. They are like little samples of musical treats. Here's one to get you started, if you enjoy acoustic guitar.

Rodrigo y Gabriela NPR Tiny Desk Concert. Enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2016

ink: landscape confession

Seascape. 12 x 12 Monotype. Ink on BFK Rives paper

Sometimes it's better to keep my mouth shut.

When I was in my first art class, and had successfully completed the learning pieces on how to handle various media, my teacher asked me what I would like to paint on my own. Landscape? she suggested.

I made a face and insisted that I was not interested in painting landscape. Landscape bored me to tears. I would rather clean the shower than look at a landscape painting... On and on I went. I probably went on longer because my teacher's laughter kind of encouraged me.

I painted flowers. I painted people. I painted fruit.

But, I kept thinking about landscape. And I started to look at landscape paintings by the some of the greats. The more I looked, the more I liked what I saw. Maynard Dixon gave me shivers. Albert Bierstadt wowed me and made me laugh (how audaciously he manipulated the landscapes in his paintings to please himself!). Wayne Thiebaud thrilled me with the Sacramento River delta scenes.

About the same time, my husband and I started to travel. For two months or more at a time, we drove to get out of the Northwest winters and find some sunshine. And, because I love it, we often made our way to the coast. I had plenty of opportunities to study the landscape. And I did.

I love the space where the land meets the sea. I love the smell of the briny air. I love the sound of the water pulling and pushing at the beach and the whisper of the wind in the oatgrass. I love the way the light reflects on the shifting water and hints at the mysteries below the surface.

Before I realized what happened, I was painting landscapes. And loving it.

I should have kept my mouth shut in the first place. But, maybe, by opening my mouth and ranting a bit about landscape paintings (and how much I despised them), I created a space for myself to explore it. Between the rant and the question mark behind the work "why?" I found landscape and fell in love.

"This Land is Your Land" Woody and Arlo Guthrie, and others.