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. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mollie's Story

Sister Brother

The first time I saw you
I knew we were kin -

You – you were
cautious and upset.

Until me-
you were one of one
and you loved it that way.

I changed all that.

My love was
instant and unconditional.

When I came close
you growled a growl that had no bite
you moved
me - I moved too.

I needed to be next to you
and eventually you knew
you needed me too.

Now we are Siamese twins
joined by one father
separated by three years.

They call me black and tan
they call you chocolate-tri

We call each other
sister brother.

Max & Mollie

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Before the morning nonsense

Ink and Acrylic on frosted mylar

Before The Morning Nonsense Begins

You and I can sit
in perfect silence - 
each quiet in our own personal thoughts -
and be blissfully happy.

You always get up first
then I follow.

This is our time- 
before the others
before the one you call love & husband
before the one I call master & protector - 
and before her -
the princess -
half-sister who once up
insists on being in the middle of everything.

Your hand cannot rest upon my head
without her insistent black snout nosing in.

Alas, no matter how much I wish her gone
she is here to stay
and truth be known
she's okay.

But for now
it's just you and me.
I roll over and am in ecstasy
as you rub my belly.

I sigh, I snort, I am content.  


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Blessings disguised as hardships

Graphite on paper

I used to draw, mostly in pencil. Then in 1986 I stopped. It wasn't a conscious decision, it just happened. 

My life took a dramatic shift, I divorced my first husband, buried myself in work and only my ghost stayed the studio.  

Not creating was like losing a lover; a big void in my heart. At first I didn't see what was happening. But over time, little by little, I lost sight of myself.  And even though I was in the embrace of a new and exciting relationship, I was restless. 

Fourteen years later, my muse decided to wake me up. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I realized if I was going to get back into making art, I better start, now. 

I made a vow to myself, after treatment, I would find a workshop. I would no longer just look at my studio; I would re-claim my creative territory.

So why did I stop and why did it take me so long to go back? 

The longer I stayed away, the scarier it got. I was out of practice. I could no longer "see." That creative agility seemed to be gone. 

Now I look back at those fourteen lost years, and wonder where my art would be today if I hadn't stopped. I know it's a foolish thing; I can't re-claim lost time, but sometimes I can't help but think that way. 

I'm not the first to say this; getting sick was one of the best things that happened especially since this was just a warning shot.  

Like all artists, I have my spectacular days, my ordinary days and my crappy days in the studio, but I show up. That's really all that is asked. Show up. Be a partner. Pay attention to that very important part of you. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My addiction

Arches oil paper
22.5 x 15 inches
oil, cold wax, lithograph pencil 

Every artist seeks recognition. Otherwise why make the work? Without an audience we are just creating visual soliloquies in the dark, alone, hiding our star. 

Look at social media. The lure of seeing "how many likes and comments" we received on a post.  It's addictive. And it can damage our ability to take those necessary risks that push our work from mediocre to something truly real and sublime. 

If trapped by "recognition" we can actually watch our singular, extraordinary genius swirl down the drain into the pool of the ordinary. 

Making work to please an audience instead of pleasing ourselves is a death sentence to our authenticity. The first person that needs to recognize our work is us. We need to aim to work "above ourselves in order that we may be able to live with ourselves." Friedrich Nietzsche

I'm a victim of this internet disease. I use facebook and instagram to promote my work, but I can't help myself from checking my posts to see how they are "trending". 

Elizabeth Gilbert writes in, Big Magic, that our creativity is not benign. If we don't listen and answer to our muse, she will find a way to lead us into a dark, unhappy place.

We will try to quiet her by anesthetizing ourselves with some other form of addiction, most of which are not going to do us any favors: alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, spending addiction, king midas addiction. They're all around us. We see and hear about them every day. 

Its hard work and scary to develop your creative self. Doubt swirls around like a smoke ring whispering; do you even know what you're doing? why? who cares?

 But if we can gather the courage to just do it anyway, Wow, we can create some amazing stuff. We see it around us every day.  It is joyful and makes us happy.

When hesitating to go into my studio for a laundry basket full of excuses I remind myself; this is my one life, my one chance; do not deny it. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Learning fear is part of creativity

carbon & acrylic
first marks

A painting is often more interesting at the beginning than at the end. 
Enrique Martinez Celaya; On Art & Mindfulness

How often I am tempted to stop before the painting can be painted. I fall in love with those early, freely deployed marks. No thought No fear. No judgement. 

Freely deployed. I'm not "trying" to make anything. I just let my hand speak to the surface and absorb the energy I place on it with whatever writing tool I'm using.  

How to stay in that initial zone? That's where I struggle. I know the painting isn't finished, how could it be? this is way to easy, the surface is barely scratched, there is too much naked canvas.

So in I go, like an explorer mapping a new territory and at some point, it gets really messy.  I bemoan that earlier painting that has long been buried in the debris of my ineptitude. That's how it feels. And the inner dialogue starts;
I completely messed it up.
What am I doing? 
Why am I doing this?
I don't know what I'm doing!
I should just quit. 

This is where it's crucial to stay in my studio and keep going. This is where something will happen. This is where I need to step out of my head and let the painting become realized.

At this point in the process, the painting is so far off that I get back to where I started. I have nothing to lose, so I re-enter that earlier zone; no thought, no fear, no judgement. 

Sometimes nothing great happens and that's okay, I look at it as a research session. Another building block on my foundation of information. I've been painting steadily for 10 years and early on I almost became paralyzed with the fear of destroying the work.

But the painting in it's current state was mediocre, good at best. And that's not the kind of paintings I want to make; there is no choice, I have to keep working. 

My work has deepened over the years, I can see it in my early work compared to today, but I look at those early pieces and I still like them, because they are authentic to me and I had the courage to let that show. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

I'm trying to save myself

The Game

I recently read an article about the importance of an artist's "elevator speech"; that crucial 5 minutes after someone finds out you are an artist and they ask you "what kind of art do you do?"

My typical response is panicked silence followed by something generic and lame, like "abstract".  And that's followed by the other person nodding in an absent manner and moving on. 

So I've been writing up different "speeches" and frankly, they all sound pompous and totally inauthentic for me. 

Finally, the other morning I stopped writing and began thinking...what really turns me on about painting? And instead of listening with my mind, I listened with my heart.

In truth, I paint because it makes me feel like a kid.  The play, the discovery, the wonder, the smell of the paint, the feel of the paint, all those go into the sandbox of my emotions. 

I realize I am not trying to save the world, I'm trying to save myself and bring joy to those around me. 

That is what I want to communicate with my art. And hopefully those emotions transfer onto the canvas and the person looking at my work feels the the joy of being human. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Where Are The Women; Mr. Shlain?

Helen Frankenthaler
color field painting

Dear Mr. Shlain,

I am nearing the end of your fascinating book; Art & Physics, Parallel Visions in Space, Time and Light by Leonard Shlain, and I am amazed and appalled. 

In spite of the knowledge and insights I have gleaned from this 437 page historical telescope regarding the prescient visions of artists and the scientific breakthroughs of scientists, I am left in a conundrum...where are the women? 

In my personal view, the advent of the abstract expressionists is one of the most exciting turning points in art. Here we have innovative giant pioneers like Louise Nevelson, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner and hundreds more; all silent between your pages.

Only the male voices are heard and recognized. You are obviously a talented and sensitive detective of history, combing through the archeology of innovation and discovery with the precision-like scalpel of your physicians mind, and yet, you are blind to an entire group of contributors. 


This is the reason women are not as visible in the arts and sciences, men like you do not investigate further nor give recognition to these incredible innovators. Therefore, we are not written into the historical fabric. 

The irony, you began this book because your twelve year old daughter inspired it during a visit to the MOMA. How do you explain to her why no women artists, mathematicians, nor scientists are listed in your discoveries or observations? 

Along with the artists above, here are just three visionary scientists left out of your book:

Hypatia; 415 AD, Greek mathmatician, astronomer and philosopher. Head of the Neoplationic school of Alexandria, where she taught philosophy and astronomy.
Marie Curie; 1867-1934, Polish-French physicist, chemist, and pioneer in the theory of radioactivity and X-ray. First and only woman to receive the Nobel Prize, twice. 
Rosalind Franklin; 1920-1958, English chemist and X-ray crystallographer, largely responsible for discovering DNA double helix, which Watson and Crick received the recognition and Nobel Prize in 1962, after stealing her research..

Another 437 pages could be written regarding the contributions of women in all sectors of the arts and sciences. 

It's time our stories were told. It's time we begin to tell them, ourselves. If we leave it up to the men, we will be forever silent and deeply buried between the pages of discovery and history. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Here I am, see me

Tangled Alphabet
Mixed Media

I listened to an interview with abstract painter,  Aida Tomescu

At one point she said, "abstraction is a language, it can never be a style because it's not fixed, it is forever evolving." 

Which reminded me of a conversation I had with another artist who lamented, "abstraction is the last new thing, I don't think there's anything we can do as artists that will be a breakthrough like abstraction."  The paradox, she was right and wrong at the same time.  

As artists we crave to express ourselves different from our peers. As Tomescu states, abstraction will never be fixed, just as we aren't. Since abstraction comes from within, we each can peer over the edge of unlimited possibilities that make up the chambers of our minds.

As we bravely step into the abyss, we manifest the path to our unique language; an abstract alphabet that constitutes our private vocabulary, the foundation which is built through our individual experiences and how we interpret the realities around us. 

Taking these abstract puzzle pieces, we create our inner pictorial maps. Even though each is as different as we are from each other, on a collective subconsciousness we can unravel each other's language, a visceral understanding borne out of our joined humanity.

So when we are courageous enough to express our unique authenticity, we give each other a precious gift;
Here I am, see me. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

There is a lover beyond another

There Is A Lover Beyond Another

There is a lover
beyond another-
one I am gladly
bound to.

One whom I
can not ignore
for risk of great

One in whom I
see myself so clearly,
where I can fly beyond
the dimensions of
space and time.

One who nourishes me
with wings of eternity.

There is a lover
beyond another-
one I am gladly
slave to.

A life lived not in
richness and in health,
but in the concrete of
boredom and the ordinary,
will surely be my destiny
if I heed not her siren song.

I gladly go
and perform
the struggle, tug and push
in the solitude of my studio.

I give her voice-
I worship at her feet.

There is a lover
beyond another-
gratefully so. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Creative inspirations

In Honor of Mary Oliver

Her arcane appeal 
is shrouded in her simplicity
of profoundness.

Her ability to word-paint 
the wonder 
of the natural world
with crystal, innocence-

I feel her awe and devotion
in my mitochondrial soul-
and I want to stand beside her

Mary Oliver is one of my creative inspirations. Her words, an extension of her lovely soul, reach deep inside me and awake the wonder of this magical place we call Earth. We share and worship in the same cathedral, the expansive outdoors. 

Her most recent book; Upstream; Selected Essays is a joy to read. Thank you, Mary Oliver, for using the lens of your words to paint a world of magical mystery. Bravo. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Wait For Me

Wait For Me

Acres over my head
gliding across the grey winter sky
the lone cry of a Canadian goose
pierces an arrow of melancholy
into my heart.

for me-

I wonder,
what were you doing
when your flock took off without you?
Captured by your image in the pond
you floated across as a group?

Or perhaps you were off in a field of
never ending grass, grazing away
as your brothers and sisters
ran the runway of the plains
up into the air.

And now what?

Plaintively crying out
hoping your voice will boomerang forward
and the tip of an arrow of geese
 will come flying towards you
drawing you back into the fold
of your companions.

I toss up a prayer
that that is so. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Link to my sanity

Born In A Dream

I am nothing
I am everything
the paradox
the conundrum.

"Without me, you would not be."
I ponder this
and respectively reply,
"But without me,
you would not be known."*

This is the symbiotic paradox we swim in. 

This is the conversation between the artist and the blank canvas. Until we make that first mark, there is nothing. 

I think, why am I drawn to do this? 

Imagining my life without making art is like looking into a large Vantablack hole...suffocating madness. This is my link to sanity, my holy grail, the chalice of my human redemption. 

We all need a purpose to feel alive, making art is my "aliveness." When I pour myself onto the canvas my soul breathes. A sigh of calm descends and I am transcended. 

* Paraphrase conversation between Abraham & God.