Thursday, October 31, 2019



Max could speak volumes through his eyes.

Here’s the irony, three and a half years ago we flew him to Versailles, France to have life saving open heart surgery. The reason we went to France was the success of the surgeon, a Japanese doctor who had developed a technique where the dog’s immune system didn’t attack the sutures, thereby letting everything heal successfully.

In the U.S., the success of this surgery is about 40%. We didn’t like those odds.

Across the ocean, in Clinque Bozon, a small veterinary clinic, they were performing the same surgery with a 96% success ratio. We liked those odds.

We arranged for Max to get comfort dog status, which allowed him to fly in the main cabin with us, and off we went to Versailles for three weeks.

He had his surgery on July 3, 2016. Two and a half weeks later, we flew back home, and he was doing great. We were all so happy. Max had a stronger heart, and we allowed our imaginations to see him with us for many years to come.

About four months ago I took Max to our local vet, because I thought he had developed a couple of fatty tumors on his neck. To my knowledge, fatty tumors are benign and not uncommon in older dogs. Our vet felt his neck and said, “these are not tumors, these are his lymph nodes and they’re swollen.”

Gut punch.

After a few tests, the diagnosis came back as positive for a very aggressive form of lymphoma. After consulting with an oncologist and our local vet, we decided to give Max chemotherapy. With his heart condition, he wasn’t a candidate for the most aggressive treatment, a 19-week protocol where he would have to have a treatment once a week for three weeks, off one week, and back to treatment.

We opted for the second-best course, which was an oral chemo treatment once every three weeks over a 15-week span. Within two days of the treatment, his lymph nodes had decreased dramatically in size. We were smiling, and hopeful and happy.   

Within six days, I noticed his lymph nodes were swollen again, and now the ones on the other side of his neck were also swollen. Severe disappointment. Back to the oncologist, who suggested another course with a different drug. We said, let’s try it. That also failed. We had one option left, another drug.

Max had no ill side effects from the first two treatments, so we tried the last option. That also didn’t work. We all agreed it was time to put him on palliative care. At first, he responded well. Was running to and twirling around his food bowl, loved going out and rolling in the grass and slept in bed with us.

Every day was a blessing as we kept a careful eye on how he was feeling. As time went on, in small increments, we could see he was failing and finally, this Monday, those eyes that could write a book, looked into my eyes, and I knew.

I knew it was time; time to be compassionate and help you to a peaceful end.

I can hardly write this without my face falling to my chest. Oh Max, I miss you so. And the irony, it wasn’t your heart, after all my dear, it was a cruel cancer that took you from us.  

This primordial hole in my heart, I know will heal, and in its place will be a legacy of wonderful memories, where you will nest until I draw my last breath.

Thank you for choosing us. Thank you for giving us almost 13 years of pure joy.

Run, Max, Run


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Inside Out Painting

Are You Willing To Bring Your Own Story?
Acrylic & spray paint on canvas

"Painting is an illusion, a piece of magic. So What you see is not what you see."
                                                                                            Philip Guston

More so than any other form of art, abstraction requires a dialog between the artist and the viewer.

Since I am painting, not from visual reality, but from what I call inside-out painting; coming from my subconscious instead of the concrete world around me, I need the viewer to bring their own story into the painting in order to complete it. 

That's what's so unique about this category of art; least understood by many, yet a form of communication that demands a collaboration between artist and audience. 

When someone is drawn to my work, it's their own emotions about color and shape and line through which they see my paintings. I believe many people are intimated by abstract art because it doesn't relate to the world they see. But that's also what intrigues. 

This is as difficult to put into words as it is to describe the art. Yet, there are plenty of critics that drown us in "intellectual art speak" elevating the work to an almost biblical level by tossing around big words and complex phrases meant to create a community of the elite, as if this form of art is only for the chosen. 

Rubbish, I say!

Abstract art is closer to birth and childhood than to universities. You don't have to know why you like, you just do. And I am grateful to those who do, because I love making it. 


Sunday, September 15, 2019

When your heart speaks, listen

Make Believe

My creative expression must 
be the most important thing 
in the world to me
 if I am to live artistically, 
and it also must not matter at all 
if I am to live sanely.
                                 Elizabeth Gilbert

It started with an imaginary friend, Illa. I was four, she was timeless. 

I don't know where she came from, one day she was there; someone small just like me, someone secretly just for me.

She and I created alternative worlds to play in. We fabricated outrageous tales, went on forbidden adventures and escaped the chaos of a lonely life. I can't quite remember when she disappeared, just as she appeared, like a magic trick, she was gone. 

The fairy tales may have stopped but my search for creative expression certainly didn't. In my twenties I used my body as a canvas and my wardrobe as the paint. Eventually I turned to more traditional tools; pencils, paper, paint, and here I am today. 

The other day, my adorable Aunt (who unfortunately for me, lives an ocean away in Germany)  apologized, in an email, that she didn't understand my art. I suggested she look through the lens of colors, lines, and shapes instead of the lens of realism. 

We don't have to understand why we are drawn to a piece. Abstraction, in particular, is not meant to be understood through the reality of the visual world. Like poetry, it's meant to be filtered through the mind and felt in the heart.  

When you heart speaks, listen, just rest there, it's amazing what may bubble up to the surface of the conscious. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Who knew mushrooms were so smart

Intoxicating Desire

I am a breathing flesh and blood painter - experimenting with new influences is what pumps my heart and keeps me jumping out of bed in the mornings. 

Another passion, learning. Currently I'm reading How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence by Michael Pollan. Who knew mushrooms were so smart! They are directors of survival. Creating an interwoven matrix of forever fields of communication using cyber like speed, sending messages and nutrients, all right under our feet, to their collaborators above. All which help to shield and nourish us. 

I marvel at the interconnections. It's as mind expanding as the entheogens Pollan explores in his book. These inner connections intrigue me and heighten my awareness of all sentient beings. I try to keep this heighten acuity while out walking my dogs, or alone. Then I bring this curiosity and reverence into my studio. Using color, lines and shapes I explore my connection, our connection, with this marvelous web of life. 

Listen -
are you breathing just a little
and calling it a life? 
                      Mary Oliver

I don't want to have made this journey and breathed just a little. 
Instead, I long to fill my lungs - pulling in all I can with all my might, embracing the everything before sending it all back - and doing that again, and again, and again, and again, until again is no more. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019



I love this glass...
but for me this glass
is already broken -

when I understand
that this glass
is already broken
every minute is precious. Ajahn Chah

We have become dream walkers skating on the surface of our lives. 

I can understand why some children fight mightily the night against sleep. They fear not waking up, and they, only new to this world, are anxious with curiosity.

Cancer invasion.
Mutant cellular body snatchers. 

Broken glass reflected in death - my mirror image - suddenly all was precious. The feel of my feet on the grass, the ease of my breath, the opera sung by the birds outside my window, the caress of the breeze, the feel of my husband's hand in mine, the gaze that spoke with no words. Life.

Friday, April 26, 2019

A language I know and speak

What is it about a hot cup of coffee that stimulates profound conversations? Perhaps it's that alluring, smoky aroma that livens up our imaginations. 

Over a cup of coffee, a friend recently asked why circles appear in much of my work? And what do they mean?

Trying to fit that inner dialogue into a suit of common conversation was difficult until a brew of sorts bubbled up as a language I know and speak.

That mystical brew poured the following words into the corrugated maze of my brain: circles represent connectedness; connectedness to each other, connectedness to the land and connectedness to the Universe. 

What is holiness but a reverence for the sacred, and we are the sacred; the manifestation of all that is in an ever "widening circle".

I read that the American Indians were puzzled and amused when settlers wanted to "buy their" land. They knew the land was not theirs to sell, it didn't belong to them, they belonged to the land. Unfortunately, that was not the story the settlers were taught. 

Over the decades as felled trees were replaced by sky scrapers, stripped forests became housing developments and fields became asphalt covered roads, we no longer hear the land speak to us. That connection has gone sadly silent. 

But I believe there are many of us who want to sing our song of being, our desire to connect to each other and all the space around us, and I believe we share a reverence for nature and try to tread lightly on her body. 

Book of Hours 12

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world. 
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God,
around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know:
am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?
                                                                          Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Power of Change in Art

Complications #1
Acrylic and Ink

I am in the midst of a powerful history book, Ninth Street Women, Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Five Painters And The Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel.  

The artists of that time were blazing pioneers running from the flames of two horrific World Wars and running into the flames of an art form never seen and little understood.  These then unknown artists, were driven to find a new way of expression, not found in the visual world around them, but in their down-the-rabbit-hole imaginations. 

At first, the public majority jeered and dismissed their art, imagine the courage it took to continue. 

Musician Morty Feldman captured the mood with scalpel like precision:
Art is a crucial, dangerous operation 
we perform on ourselves. 
Unless we take a chance, we die in art.

My change in direction is not nearly as daunting.  I see in this new work the underpinnings of my previous paintings, but now I no longer feel like I'm fighting against the canvas. I feel the work is  freer, flowing from my internal landscape. It's as if I have come to a point, where I feel a sense of belonging with the art. I'm creating in concert, not opposition. My ego is muted and my being has space to speak. 

After months of frustrating experimentation, I painted Complications #1, the first successful work in the new series.  And it sold within 24 hours of posting it on social media. A kiss from the Universe,  I am on the right path...for now. Because just as Feldman said decades ago, if we stagnate in our art, we die in art. 

My curiosity and excitement are bound twins in the quest of where this will lead.  

Monday, February 4, 2019

Is It Unwise To Wish For Too Much?

Beauty's Alchemy
Acrylic on board

Is it unwise to wish for too much? 
To dream a dream dreamed for us by the Divine? 

Why say; "be careful what you wish for"? 
Why not fill our baskets to the brim with good and earnest wishes 
and strive for them all? 

Isn't that why we are here?
To bear witness to the beauty, mystery and alchemy of this planet.

Beauty and creativity are mirror twins,
deny them presence, 
they lure us into the underbelly
of primordial havoc,
stripped of compassion and love,
we dive into chaos and madness. 

Beauty - a divine breath that blows the heart open.
                                                                      John O'Donohue

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

When We Were First Dreamed

I had a dream last night, or maybe I had a dream within a dream.

I was visited by a beautiful red fox. She had a little white on her face and a tip of black on her tail, as if it had been dipped in Sumi ink.  

Looking at her, I felt a sense of wonder, calm and pure, innocent joy.

An omen? A vision? Perhaps just a delightful visitor reminding me of all the miracles that surround us.

It’s 6 am on a Sunday morning. It snowed again last night. It’s still very dark outside, so I can really see how much more of this pure, white, cotton candy ice is on the ground by the light it’s reflecting.
It’s very pretty and makes the world very quiet.

My fox, she was standing in the snow.

Journal entry-February, 11, 2018

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

On being an immigrant

Sacred Guardians

My mother and I immigrated to the United States when I was nine years old.

We were coming from Wiesbaden, Germany to New York City.

We weren't fleeing anything. She had married an American soldier and along with my five year old step-brother, the four of us arrived safely on U.S. shores. 

No ICE agents, no border control guards, awaited us. 

In the 1930s and 1940s there was a mass exodus out of the inferno in Europe. Many came to the peaceful, welcoming shores of the United States of America, seeking asylum. 

Together, with the creative caldera that was bubbling in New York City, America became a central force for creative expression and experimentation. Science, architecture, dance, music, sculpture, photography, psychoanalysis, painting, all exploded with newness. 

Among the painters living in America, who would tear down the establishment of realism and create a whole new world of seeing, were; Motherwell, Frankenthaler, the de Koonings, Krasner,  Pollack,  Kline, Resnik, Rauschenberg, Hartigan, and Mitchell. 

Then came the wartime flight of "the most amazing exodus in history. Internationalism was thrust upon New York by Europe." wrote Tom Hess; ArtNews Editor. 

Motherwell described the scene as a "kind of Istanbul...a great crossing place. A great bazaar." 

Those immigrants included Hans Hoffman, the Albers, Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Levi Strauss, Erich Fromm, Tocanini, Balanchine, Marcel Duchamp, Breton, Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Dali. 

Seemingly overnight the U.S. became the throne of the most advanced thinking in the western world and the apex of the art world; where genius mingled with the everyday and ideas filled the air like  pixie dust. 

I wonder, where would we be today if these people, along with thousands of others who helped weave the tapestry of our country's altruism and intellectualism, were denied entry?

Imagine President Roosevelt closing our borders under the canopy of fear that caravans of Nazis and Fascists were invading our homeland borders. Would we have continued on our path of becoming the lighthouse for the exchange of new thoughts, ideas, equality, hard work and dreams? Would we have made the scientific discoveries that are still informing scientists today?

I fear not. 

Monday, October 29, 2018


Cinnabar no. 2
acrylic on canvas

When you come to the edge of all light you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly. Patrick Overton

I have been painting full time for 10 months and I admit, this has been an adjustment. My biggest challenge is sticking to a schedule and making sure I am in the studio on a regular basis; keeping a disciplined practice.  

Treating it like a job has helped. Writing down my goals and checking them weekly has helped.

However, I have noticed in the dense field of creative momentum, there comes a moment, it actually steals up on me and covers me in a subtle veil of lethargy, perhaps stimulated by a nagging fear of not being worthy enough to manifest this beauty; I mean, it is all of me, coming from me, coming through me and I find my self asking; can I pull this off? Am I able? Or am I just an impostor - a poser?

I recognize this dark twin whispering empty fear into my ear and I have found the best way to silence her is to keep on working, releasing myself from myself, ignoring my mind-talk and allowing the painting to speak.

And when that happens, I see beauty, peace and an essence of spirituality in my work; meditation on canvas, expressed in line, color and form. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Perfection in the imperfect


Just where you are
that is the place to start.
                                             Pema Chodron

Perfection, by its own definition, requires nothing. 
It is a state of still silence. 
Imperfection, by human definition, requires molding, manipulation, modification.
It resides in the state of vibrancy and creation. 

This is where we all live and breathe. 

I imagine as a human, I'll achieve perfection as I release my last breath. As a being, I'm already there without the awareness that I am already there. This is the conundrum of human and beingness. 

For now, I follow the wisdom of Pema Chodron and embrace the imperfect-work-in-progress of my life. And I admit, I am not rushing towards perfection, in fact, I am moving towards it at a very, very slow pace.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Hunger Games of An Art Practice

Black & White Duet
acrylic on paper

The very nature of creation is not of a performing glory on the outside.
It's a painful, difficult search inside.
              Louise Nevelson

After a less than successful day in the studio, I woke up while dawn was still sleeping, wondering, where am I going to create the vocabulary to communicate my stories?  

In the pre-dawn, micaceous oxide light, my inner inquisitor quenched herself on my insecurities. Tossing and turning in an attempt to wrestle this nascent demon from its perch, I silently wondered if I had the courage to go back into the studio this morning. 

On the days when poetry seems to flow from my painting tools, I am happy, I am brave, but on those difficult days when I leave the studio defeated in the creative wrestling match of trying to make sense of color, shape and line, it takes an act of faith to go back the next day. 

Faith and memory give me the courage to re-enter. This is not new, it's just part of the process. And the reward for allowing the work not to be perfect are those heady times when there is no separation between me and the work; my ego becomes mute and I become aware. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Tuscan Series
Quattrocento #2
Oil/Cold Wax

Some people never know the profound pleasure
 of the work for its own sake. They work only to live. 
Alex Castro to Anne Truitt: Daybook

The pure pleasure, we artists are fortunate enough to experience, losing ourselves in the action and activity of "the making".

Currently I am swimming in the indulgence of color. The Tuscan Series is focused on my memories of Italy and the soft, golden suns and walls, sienna and dove grey foundations; textures and colors fashioned through the erosion of time, visible in the ancient architecture, are like decadent, dark chocolate for my mind. 

The sensuous pleasure I experience mixing hues together, as my eyes and then my mind, coalesce into a sacred ecstasy as new colors appear under the magic wand of the palette knife.

This joy - it comes from the work. I am daily grateful that I am in a time and place where I can indulge myself in this practice. 

And yet it's not entirely an indulgence. It's a very strong yet flexible thread to my survival. It gives my life purpose. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Abstrakt Gaze #4


When a friend recently said I was “fearless” after seeing a major shift in one of my paintings, 
that set me on an internal journey.

My definition of fearlessness for an artist and a human, being;

Complete surrender surrounded by dense uncertainty.

There comes a moment when our internal gaze informs us
we need to step out of what is,
in search of what is possible.

Resplendent jeopardy of ruination awaits,
if we cower from the urge-
the abyss of mediocrity is ready to capture our fear,

and transform us into
denizens of the unknown.

Like the Phoenix
we rise from the ashes of our blind leaps –
golden egg in our heart
to place on the altar of creativity.

Other times we must take
those ashes and begin again.

The more often we trust those urges and step out
the easier it becomes to survive the catastrophes.
The magic of what is possible
 is in the fearless leap.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Beginning With Nothing, Ending With Something

What Are You Thinking?

How to describe that feeling- 
the electrical charge of the first stroke 
on the pristine white canvas-
suddenly the canvas 
becomes real. 

Beginning with nothing and ending with something,
energy captured 
between the boundaries of the stretcher bars,
it's magic-
the magic of my imagination. 

When someone asks an artist to explain their art, well the difficulty of that sits in the space with no sound - a whisper of creation only the artist hears - a secret language that's not a language at all - a conundrum of communication.

We mine the library of our conscious thoughts in an effort to describe the miracle of our imaginations. 

For the first six months of our lives, we see only through the rods of our black and white world- then one day we blink our eyes open and tadaa our cones have matured and our world becomes the Land of Oz, a kaleidoscope of hues.

What did our six month-old selves think?

We had no alphabet to bridge the sense of sight with the nebula of thought - 
objects were simple color fields,
we hadn't learned the art of naming things,
so how did we think? 
without words?

That's art and what I believe Picasso meant when he said, "I want to paint like a child." Which is why that five minute elevator speech is so damn hard to write. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Bittersweet; A Valentine

Mixed Media

Let's go out and feel the night.
                                                  Neil Young*
I was bald. I was sick. I was going through chemotherapy treatment. It was the summer of 2007. 

One night, there was a sultry, Key West breeze blowing through the flat lands of the Midwest. We decided to take a drive into the little village about 3 miles from our home. 

One of my favorite indulgences is ice-cream. Not that soft serve, ultra-sweet kind, that is extruded out of a machine much like poo. No, I like the creamy, full- throated, sensuous, dense-with-flavor ice cream made by Baskin & Robbins, scooped up by a muscled teenager. 

After parking the car, we walked to the ice cream shop and ordered a cone. Mine was cake, his was sugar.  Two scoops each. We left with our sugar prizes in hand; the streets were crowded with teenagers enjoying the night. We wanted somewhere quiet to sit and savor our sweets, so we wandered over to the railroad tracks and sat on a bench as if waiting for the next Amtrack. 

The light was soft denim blue. It seemed to cocoon us in a suspended state of peace. 

It was a silent communication between to halves of a whole, each savoring the cool, sweet, lava flow of flavor dancing on our tongues. At one point we began to discuss that the most delicious anticipation is that final bite of cone with melted ice-cream exploding like an ocean of flavor in our mouths. 

Even now, 10 years later, I can feel the wonder, hope, and love we shared.  Most importantly, I remember a visceral passion to carry on.

I wanna see you dance again...
                                       Neil Young*

* Lyrics from; Harvest Moon

Monday, January 8, 2018

Something Wonderful is Happening

The Feminine Series

You're It

as a myriad of things and
playing a game 
of tag

has kissed you and said
"You're it-
I mean, you're REALLY IT!"

it does not matter 
what we believe or feel
for something wonderful,
major-league Wonderful
is someday going 

This Christmas I was given a book of poetry by the Sufi poet, Hafiz. When I read this poem it spoke directly to the new year, new chapter in my life. Something wonderful is happening. 

After being in the corporate world for more than 37 years, I am closing those chapters and opening a new gateway to full time painting. 

I never dreamed I'd get to play
the greatest role of all: myself. 
                                                Kia LaBeija

No doubt, there is some angst. Part of the mind shift deals with perception semantics - I no longer tell myself "I'm going to the office." instead, "I'm going to the studio." And I am no longer going to work; I am going to my practice. 

This mental shift helps break the paradigm of the  corporate"40 hour week" and places it smack into the unknown reality of creativity which has no time or space, but it does have discipline if it is to manifest. 

Venturing onto a blank canvas
means going into an unknown situation. 
                                                    Robert Diebenkorn

This is something I have been yearning to do for quite some time and with the love and support of my life partner, I have been given the oars to glide, tumble, and steer my vessel into new horizons.

I am not interested in art 
as a means of making a living, 
but I am interested
in art
as a means of living a life.
                                                          Robert Henri

The wisdom and truth in those words sing to my soul. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

New Body of Work


The modern artist, unlike his (her) artistic ancestors is in a sense forced to invent (her) own pictorial language before (she) can even think about elaborating on this language. (She) has the problem of both invention and elaboration. 
Robert Motherwell

That elusive complex director, inspiration, has a way of manifesting in unexpected ways. Take these five figures above. On the one hand, they just appeared on the canvas, spontaneous marks made by my hand and yet, when I look at them, I realize I brought them back with me from France. 

Earlier this summer I visited the Chartres Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe. I wanted to go there because I read the light within this place was supernaturally beautiful and there was a feeling of spirituality within its ancient walls.  When I entered the nave I was enveloped in the reverent quietude and felt I was in a place of grace. 

Looking around I noted the beautiful Madonnas captured in the colorful pieces of stained glass and the compassionate Madonnas resting throughout in graceful sculptural forms. Not knowing it then, they would become the foundation for a new body of work. 

Pilgrim no. 1

 Robert Motherwell is my biggest artistic influence, a genius of abstraction and philosophy. Reading the passage above in; Robert Motherwell, 100 Years, I thought about this figurative mark, making its presence known on the canvas. Is this my language?  I'm not sure, but I will continue to explore it until it becomes silent.

Like an author writing a novel, at some point, the characters begin to breathe magical life into their own narrative, and every good author allows them to.

Abstract painting is the same. It starts as an idea and if allowed, begins to paint its own story. The human has to get out of the way so the muse can be heard. 

After the five figures made their appearance on the canvas, I was flipping through the Motherwell book and came across this painting; Spanish Elegy XV.

And before leaving for France, I took this picture during one of my morning walks.
Five Pilgrims 

 These unexplained connections excite me. I feel there is something blooming on the horizon.  And I look forward to the exploration and discovery.