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.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

sharpened focus: inspiration

Sculpture by Modigliani at PSAM  
During a recent trip to Southern California, I was delighted to attend "A Passionate Eye: the Weiner Family Collection" at the Palm Springs Art Museum. The sculpture above was one of many stunning pieces collected by Ted and Lucile Weiner of Fort Worth, Texas. There's some talk among the museum docents that the collection may end up at PSAM permanently. What a treasure!

I spent a long time with the Modigliani sculpture. As I looked at it, I wondered about the artist. He was a painter, but for five years, he worked as a sculptor. It's possible that he was discouraged from exploring further with sculpture because of scarce supplies in the years prior to World War I. But, even so, he studied sculpture with Brancusi (another favorite of mine) for a year! He went back to painting, but his habits of drink and drugs, and disease cut short his life at just 35 years.

Experiment. Try new things. Through yourself into it wholly. That's what I see, what I feel from the Modigliani piece.

And why not?

Inspiration feels like a sharpened focus. All of my senses are dialed in. I'm sure I have seen these pieces by Franz Kline many times before, but this time, I was fascinated by them. How bold! How perfectly composed!

Paintings by Franz Kline at Palm Springs Art Museum

Even outside the museum, I felt that sharpness as I looked at other things:

the tender green leaves on the Ocotillo.

the symmetry of the Agave

the surprising outbursts of Prickly Pear flowers

Those feelings of delight and focus are what I bring in to the studio now that I am home. My first experiment is with alcohol inks on Yupo. Why not? I am not nearly as invested in the outcome as I am in the process. It is the process of creativity and inspiration. It feels like LIFE to me.

Alcohol ink on Yupo (synthetic paper)

"Crazy" Diana Krall.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

missing Dad

Bob Goodman, Dad

It's been a time of travel, fear, worry, phone calls, more travel, and saying a final good bye to my father. Dad did not suffer at the end, and that came as a relief to all four of his children.

The busyness of the last months has come crashing down on me as normal life continues but my grief has some breathing room. Every day the sun rises and sets. Every day, people go about their daily routines of work and play and love. It seems a cruel fact of life, that it relentlessly continues. Despite death. Despite the death of my father.

Yet, life goes on. I remember my father and his many good years. I honor his good death. I miss him.

And maybe, just maybe
 in the missing
 I love my husband
 and family
and friends
 just a little more.
Because our days are all numbered.
 I want to leave a 
big trail of 
 and laughter
in my wake.

Goodbye, Dad. I love you.

April 2016

Just weeks before his death, Dad sang this song with me. "King of the Road."

And, he pulled out his cornet and played "Taps."

All is well, Dad. Safely rest. God is nigh.

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.