Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All in a day's work or madness

After working in the studio this afternoon, one of the pictures has changed dramatically, another has only changed a little from its beginning idea.

Earlier I posted a 3 panel picture that is now quite different and on it's way in a new direction.  Where to, I've no idea, which is the fun of it.  It's still unfinished, of course, but entirely different from the original intention.  It will either lead me to something quirky and wonderful or to rethinking the thing entirely.

Next, I finished a picture that I've had as an idea for over a year.  An allegory on the innocence of youth,
called, "pulling a great weight",
24"x48" orig. oil, ink,
charcoal on canvas.
This painting started as a 
digital collage first and
translated well to a painting.

In addition to these I found
myself sorting through the
sample bin of old faux
finish work.  An old blue
and bronze textured board
caught my eye.
Out of the impulse a new

Wonky weather studio hideout

It was a dark and stormy night . . . oh, wait, it's a dark and stormy day!  In the air, an apocalyptic sense of wonder at how a storm so large can affect us here, so far inland?!  There's a background noise of big wind that is high up in the trees.  It's as if there's an alien spacecraft moored above our heads.  When weather takes things out of our control we conjure all sorts of imagining.  Well, I do anyway!

I watch this wild weather world from my studio window.  It affects my imagination more than my circumstance.  As usual  there are ideas on canvas to chase.  

Today's offering started from an impulsive idea.  That usually means I've grabbed whatever canvas is laying about and whatever transparency and have a go at making a picture.  The idea of what it shall be still an unknown at the start.  Or, I should say, its an innocent idea of plunking some images together only to later be replaced by something else in the making process.  

At present this 3 panel painting has a colour blocked sort of background.  What's to come in front of it is still uncertain.

It seems to have an "urban" feel but to me there needs to be something more "organic" to be added.  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rebirth of a Rainbow

For hours I've been working on this painting.  I've repainted it several times, stinking up the studio with oil fumes and mineral spirits til I think its gone to my head.  I feel drunken and slightly uncertain about what I have made.  

Yet, I like confusing myself of late.  The challenge is always to find something new in an image or a collection of images melded together. 

The other night I had had a dream about calling the painting, "Rebirth of a rainbow" to represent "renewal".  I'm not sure that this painting conveys that feeling, but it is a possibility.  For calling a name to something tends to tell the viewer how to look at the work.  I'm not sure that this is necessary either but it's the endeavour that matters most.  

So, I offer you "Rebirth of a Rainbow", 24"x50" original oil on canvas.

Friday, October 19, 2012


"Mending", a new painting, 36"x48" original oil + ink on canvas.  This image has been with me since last year.  I liked the idea of mixing a picture of a waterfall in Scotland (Onich) with a simple sketch.

I'm continually intrigued by the idea of depth in a painting as well as the abstraction of "flatness".    In this case, I was trying to give the sense of a real place of the waterfall with the superimposition of one of my sketches as the flatness.  

My mister thinks this a dark painting, but it is not.  It has to do with regeneration!

Mending by the waterfall,
sound rushes and drowns the cry of pain.
Swirling water washes me to sleep
and by its healing, I am reborn again.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My friend, TINA

My friend, TINA (There Is No Alternative) won "best of show" at last night's reception for the 20th Annual Canton Fine Art Exhibition.
Her drawing is of me from last year when I was going through chemo for ovarian cancer.  My husband took a photo of me, bald and I super-imposed it onto a white flower.  TINA took it and made THE most beautiful drawing!

I'm so very proud of my friend, TINA.  She is an amasing person and artist.  She is a devoted High School Art teacher, with little time for her own art, but I hope one day she will show more of her beautiful drawing.

Friday, September 21, 2012

magical thinking Detroit

While driving into Detroit last night to attend my first life drawing class at the venerable Scarab Club I had the feeling that I could be friends with the city.

With emptiness all around me I declared myself capable of managing my way to those enclaves where artists are trying to make something out of nothing.  They are trying to decorate the city to make it live again.

For years now having lived in the greater Detroit area I've felt as if "the city" was a vacant and scary place.  As if the dangers lurking there were in the shadows.  I never saw people on the street unless they were in crowds scuttling off to a ball game or a concert, to rush out of the city again once the event was over.  I never had the feeling that people actually live there.  There has been much written about it and I'm not going to contribute any new prose to that which has been circling and apparent for decades.

But with last night's foray into the city I was trying to see my place in it.  In with the art establishment where you have to be present to be considered.  It seems to me that I have to win over the clusters of art intelligencia to be taken seriously.  Joing in the groups that meet in the creases of the city seem to be the way of the art scene here.
   The Scarab Club drawing sessions were lovely.  It felt comfortable to be in a squeaky old building that reminded me of home.  But outside a different reality.

Leaving for the evening, walking out to my car in its space, there was only space.  My van was gone.  Instantly my mind clicked into magical thinking, as if the van had just disappeared for a moment and would be right back.  In times of shock its funny how your mind works.  My mind was hyper aware of everything immediately around me, a leaf falling, people walking by, the kind of light and darkness the streetlights and shadows were.

The Wayne State University police were contacted and the practical necessities of filing a report and such like were welcome sanity to the surreal-ness of the scene.

My husband came to fetch me as my rescuer and champion.  On the way home I visualised everything that was in my old paint bucket of a van.  The drop cloths, work boxes and what-not that were of little value to anyone but me.

It's as if, I thought, now my van has gone walk-about with someone else against her will!  Yet, in the end and in the new light of morning with tears streaming down my face for finally feeling the loss of the thing, I'm more upset by what the theft represents than the actual loss of a thing!

It represents my reluctance to be friends with the city.  To hook my star to the possibility that it can help me advance my art in a place that needs so much more than tarted up buildings and well intentioned nonsense.

It has always been hard for me to reconcile myself to living here.  In my weaker moments I cry like a child that wants to go home.  My magical thinking helps me cope with stressful information.  It's the magical thinking of hope.  I don't see the need to decorate or admire the grit of the city.  Painting it will never change a damn thing, but hope can if I can drive my way through it savvier than the last time.  That is, when I get a car!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


It's September, the start of the change of season.  It also makes me think that in the not too distant future the warmth of the oven will be a pleasant surrounding, which means baking, which means pie!

Years ago I fancied myself a baker, perhaps because my gran was such a good one and I wanted to be as able as she.  Years ago, I was practiced, but since then I've become a paint farmer, a "one-trick-pony" where the only concocting I do is the alchemy of mixing colours in paint for making paintings or murals.

On the odd occasion when I actually bake it often times becomes an art project rather than a sweet morsel!  But for today, I can manage a simple cobbler with fresh peaches.

Turning the oven on I know that autumn is here and with it so many new things.  No matter how many years we experience the change of seasons, each change always feels new and and more colourful.

This year's events are so very different from last.  There are gallery art receptions to attend, there are fine art shows to enter.  There's a whole new prospect and outlet for the art I love to make.  And, of course, there's time to make the art.  Time, oh precious time!

The biggest prospect and the one and closest to my heart is the weekend event artist friends and I are promoting for ourselves in Northville the first weekend in Oct. (5,6&7).  We conjured it up as a means to show and sell our work and to raise money for the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

It has become a bit of an obsession for me I suppose, trying to gather artists interested in participating and navigating how to contact the media and take care of little bits of this and that that is required with learning how to self-promote.  I'm learning alot along the way.  So, although I've been out of the studio more than in it, I feel like I'm learning what it means to make paintings.

The painting pictured here was almost thrown away.  It was a bit of a scribble that kept getting added to over time with no rhyme or reason.  And in that  fiddling, what do you know, some kind of new thing.  Or at least, I think it's something.  It's certainly not pie but it visually tastes good to me!

"we make each other cry sometimes"
18"x24" orig. mixed media on canvas

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Survive as an Artist
By Carrie Yury
From Artillery, Killer Text on Art
Summer 2012 edition

   Recently I was on a panel for the college art association’s annual conference.  The title for the panel was “Ten Years Post Degree:  Professional Success of Women Artist and Art Scholars in the Critical Decade Post Graduation.”
   The panel raised a number of issues for me, including what it means to “succeed” in the zero-sum game art world.  But thinking about the question was a good exercise.  It made me realize that for me the most important measure of success is the fact that I’m still making work that engages and challenges me intellectually, emotionally and politically.  So for my part in the panel, I decided to make a list of the strategies that have helped me continue to make art.
   I’m still struggling, but when I remember to think about and apply the following strategies I do a lot better.  So here goes.  I hope you find it useful.

I mean this on a few levels: socially , career-wise and in terms of getting feedback on your work.  You have to go to openings to get to know the gallery scene.  But when you go out to openings, there is no point in talking to people who are a jerk to you.  You don’t need anyone to cut you down.  Stick with talking to people who are nice to you.  It’s better for your sense of self-esteem. Andrea Bowers told me this in my first year of grad school, and I’m so glad she did.
   Career-wise this is absolutely critical.  My friend, Marc Spiegler told me once that as an emerging artist there are literally hundreds if not thousands of people who can help you with our career.  It’s only when you’re at the very top echelons of your career that those numbers narrow down.  For now, stick with the curators and dealers who like your work!

   When I was still in grad school, I had the opportunity to have a solo show a an alternative space in an office park.  I was thrilled, but at one point expressed concern that nobody would see the show because of its location.  My friend, Carrie Paterson told me, “Take every opportunity.  You never know where it will lead.”  And she was right!  I can draw a through-line from that show to my current representation at Sam Lee Gallery, where I’ve had three solo shows.

   In the story above, I am leaving out a critical fact:  In almost every step of that chain, I put myself out there and risked rejection.  After meeting Chris Hoff a few times, I asked him for a studio visit for a possible solo show.  And I got to know Sam Lee and asked him to come down and take a look at a show I was in at CSUF, which led to being represented by him.  Opportunity is a combination of the luck you make and the luck you take.  And you have to be willing to risk rejection, over and over again, and not let it defeat you.

   Here’s the boring but necessary part.  First, keep regular hours.  Schedule your studio time and treat it like a job.  Don’t answer the phone or check email. Just work.
   Second, have a plan.  Literally.  I have an exel spreadsheet that I use to help me set deadlines and goals.  My spreadsheet has different worksheets for weekly and monthly goals and deadlines.  I also have a separate sheet for three-year, five-year and ten-year goals.  Check back in and adjust the plan every week, and adjust the big goals every year.  It’s so easy to lose sense of direction.  A plan keeps you on track.

   Don’t rely on teaching art to feed you.  The employment rate for MFAs in tenure-track teaching jobs is something like 4%.  Adjuncting can be a great foot in the door but it generally pays poorly and usually lacks benefits or job security.  If you have another way that you can make money to support your art career, try to develop that alongside your art practice.  That way you won’t get to the point where you have to completely stop making art in order to focus on developing a way to make money.  And, try to dovetail your business with your art practice, so your practice can benefit from your other profession.

   If you are lucky you will become an art-star overnight straight out of grad school.  But for the rest of us, it takes time.  The art world is very relationship-based.  It takes a long time for relationshiops to develop.  And, it can take a long time for you to develop, understand and articulate your own work.  Susan Mogul just told me that although she’s won something like 30 grands, she applied for big ones for ten years in a row before winning them.  That’s inspirational.  Keep making work, keep putting yourself out there and something will happen.
   Most of all, keep making work.  That’s why you’re doing this, right?  Because you get something out of making your work, something that nothing else satisfies.  If you are an artist you make art because you have to, so get to it!

Monday, August 13, 2012

birch tree painting

Commissioned painting completed in January of this year finally installed in the client's home!

Friday, August 10, 2012

recent paintings

Recent paintings:  from top to bottom:
"A wish to time travel"
"One of the wishing chairs"
"The Door"
"The Great Tree"
"Dreaming Tree"
"Winter Road"
"We are the stars"

earning my stripes

It's been a restless day today. In the studio there's a need to start a new painting but I'm too impatient to make up the oil palette.  Instead I trust to a spontaneous dance with some acrylic paint and charcoal to find the "happy accidents" in mark making.

The initial idea is a digital collage but in recreating the idea as a painting anything can happen and usually does.  When not in the mindset to concentrate on every little thing I find that reacting to shapes and values can be very satisfying.  I don't know if it will always work out but I love to try.  For trying something I don't know teaches me what I need to know.

So, today's offering is an original 24"x48" acrylic and charcoal on canvas, "Earning my stripes".

This collage is one of 3 ideas for images of humans with animal heads.  I've always identified with the symbolism of the tiger, especially the white tiger, an anomalie in nature.  Tigers are noted to stand for courage, a theme I've always treasured.

When I lived in San Francisco years ago and worked for an arts and entertainment magazine there was an article about our local zoo having two white tigers, brother and sister.

The female was sent away to another zoo and the brother pined for her and was never mated.  I remember visiting the zoo and seeing the forelorn tiger pacing 'round his cell.  He was so beautiful, so foreign and so lonely.

This memory resonates in me that you have to be courageous enough to withstand what life gives you even when you have no control over the situation.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

we are the stars

"we are the stars", what I'm naming the newest painting.  This picture is inspired by my usual muse of trees and an artist that makes things glow, Henning Kles.   I want to portray a feeling of night time and sparkles of light on water.  The figure was tonight's addition. It's ghostliness is deliberate, to be as a memory or moment, like the feeling of what's its like to dive into a pool of water.  You anticipate the feeling of the coldness and the change of environment, but it really is never as good as the feeling of the actual moment.   And when you've come out of the water, its only a memory of the feeling.
 This "memory" we have of feelings is what intrigues me!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

oil persperation

As I leave the studio today to write this posting I realise that I've probably been painting a bit of perspiration in with the oil paint during these hot days of summer.  In fact, the heat of summer is like a wet oil painting ready to melt in runny colours.

The last two Fridays of art receptions for my paintings at different venues have been very pleasant hours of "show and tell".  It always amazes me how others are so keen on "knowing" what my paintings mean, wanting me to corroborate their discovery.  To not discourage them I usually say that it is a bit of intention and happy accident that creates a painting!  Yet I truly love when a painting resonates with someone. In a few days I should know whether two of my paintings resonated enough for two potential buyers.

In the meantime I'm back in the studio experimenting with two new works.  One is a mess, literally.  I just went at throwing oil paint over layered paper on hardboard.  The resulting texture makes the oil paint look messier than a smooth surface.  At first it was just going to be a distant view with a horizon and some big clouds.  Don't know why though, today I thought about putting in a red wavy line and then modifying that.  I'm calling it "frquency" and haven't decided if its any good.
    That's the thing, you never know if anything's any good til you've lived with it for awhile.  Sometimes you know right away, other times it takes time to know. Odd that, but very provocative.  You must suspend judgement or you'd never get anything done!

In another start of a painting, I'm inspired by work of Henning Kless.  He makes pictures glow!  I'm slowly working my way into this rather "sense of night" picture to see if I can make the trees and the reflective water "glow".  Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Upcoming shows:
    Level One Bank in Ferndale (9mile & woodward) from 18 July through 27 August.  Solo show of oil paintings, called, "Kate Paints".  Opening reception Friday 27 July, 5-8pm.
    Starring, the Gallery, (main street, Northville) the month of August.  Reception is the "first Friday", 3 August 2012, 6-9pm.  The shops are open late in Northville, full of delights, music and wine and food.  Come browse the shops and support local arts!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Time and Tide

"Time and Tide wait for no man",  a quote my gran used to use on occasion.  It seemed a fitting title to my newest painting.  A painting that I have catharted over this past week, making little changes to it, fussing it perhaps more than I should.  I must force myself to leave it alone for a bit.

This is the trap of painting.  You can invent whatever kind of world you'd like.  The image takes on a life of its own in feeling.  A brush stroke, a mark made, can change everything.  So, it is hard to know when a painting is finished!

In this instance I wanted to paint a sunset sky in all it's drama only to find that it didn't hold enough interest for me.  I always think about what other things can be added.  I don't have a preconceived idea of  a meaning for the collected images in a composition.  Sometimes the images selected serve to solve a composition problem.  Only later do I realise that subconsciously I chose things that have some sort of meaning.  I suppose it's rather like dissecting a dream. 

In that case I like the idea of making a "waking dream" of a picture.  I want them to be messier than they currently seem to me.  Not so crafted.  It speaks to my limitations as a painter.  I cannot make what I see in my head in the same way I see it.  It comes out as it will only to the strenght and knowledge that I have now to make it.

I cannot surmise that we all want for the same things in life, but in painting I am striving for the illusion of what I want to see or feel, that sense of abandon or freedom.  To be unshackled and free to wander and view the wonder of creation that I am intrinsically linked to.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The moon is blazing bright in the window above my place here at the computer tonight.  I can hear local firework blasts in the distance as American Independence Day soon approaches in a few day's time.  It has been a good week and summer is in full heat here in the midwest.  The grass is brown, the cicadas sing in the trees.  Happily I've been adding to my growing number of paintings for an upcoming show in Ferndale, MI at the Level One Bank starting 17 July and running through August. 

Here is one of the most recent paintings that shall be in the show.  This painting is made over gold leaf with oil paint and oil pastel and old ink jet ink.  Its a tribute to one of the last great oak trees in Britain.  Thus it is named, "Great Tree"!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ken Lloyd Morgan

The Old Vicarage
Great Saling, Nr. Braintree,
Essex, England, May 2005

My heart is sick with ache pumping out unstoppable tears.  A man of great gifts has passed this life.  He was my teaches, mentor and employer.  I was a restless soul when we met.  At the time more moving target than a sure thing.  This man took me in,  took a chance on me and was instrumental in supporting my desire to be on my own art road.

Just tonight I found out that he passed this life in January and no one told me.  I'm angry and hurt that I never got to pay my respects.  Just because there is an ocean separating me from the green and lovely land is no reason for me to be uninformed.

Now in grief my mind floods with thoughts of our time together.  When not working we'd talk philosophy over pints at the pub.  His wicked wit always sharpened by observations of the world.  The work was always good and demanding in an architects office but it always got done and with humor.  He could draw so well I used to imagine that he could draw in his sleep.

I was privileged to work along side a unique individual who was his own man.  He was proud to be Welsh and optimistically irreverent.  He was made of tough stuff but had a playful heart.  I shall always be in his debt for the time he gave to me.  Being around him made me feel as if I could be as successful as he was.

He has left behind a bounty of artistic legacy that can be seen all over England in the pubs he designed and built.  I've missed him for years now that I reside on the other side of the pond, but now I shall miss him in a different way.  In a way that cannot be repaired.  I hope he passed peacefully.  I hope he will be remembered.  If by no one else he shall always be remembered by me.  I carry him with me as a reminder to go my own way.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Making magic

During the past 15 days I've been painting a commission for a boy's room, creating an undersea world.  It is my job to render mural commissions, but more than that i aspire to create a bit of magic.  It seems to me that we are looking for it everywhere.  We make films about it and miss it when it's right under our noses.  It's us!  It's using our gift of imagination and language to create the world around us.  It seems simplistic to say but I'm thinking how we are children longer than any other mammal, but we throw it over to be an adult too soon.  I know we're supposed to put away childish things as we grow up but we've thrown our imaginations and belief in magic right out with it.

I charge us all to be the kings and queens of silliness once in awhile. Finger paint with the pasta sauce, laugh at how silly you look naked, walk barefoot in your yard, make a goofy face to the driver next to you stuck in traffic, look for signs of life in desolate places and paint an image in your mind of how beautiful the world can be!

Friday, May 11, 2012


The cross road isn't something I'm approaching.
It comes up to meet me with each new painting,
like lessons learned.

As each canvas is born I continue to question the validity of its existence.
They are, though, after all, the story of myself when I don't know myself.
I look for them everywhere.

Sometimes I get tired of composing pictures mechanically.
I wish I could just press my body against the  canvas cloth like sleeping in the bedclothes.
When my body is removed, what is left would be the perfect abstract description of where I've been!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

something fishy

Artist's have ideas!  That's what I was told today.  Of course we have ideas whether we're working for others or for ourselves.  Let me explain.

Through a "call for entries" a local city is promoting painted artwork that is sponsored by local businesses.  Just as there were cows in Chicago, etc. this art event features painted fiberglass fish.  Each artist submits an "idea" and the various sponsors select the idea they like best, financing the artists work.  The artwork (fish) are then placed on the street in the community and subsequently auctioned off at the end of summer.

Today's press meeting at a prop house near Belle Isle, Detroit was a gathering for the artists and sponsors to meet.  And for the artists to collect their fishes for painting.  It was fun to meet other artists and hear what their ideas are for their fish!  It's a doubly good thing as artists always like to "play", get paid to play and the locality gets some fun art promotion!

On the way out of the event with fiberglass fish endow in the back of the van I roamed 'round Belle Isle as I was told there was an aquarium there.  As it seems I'm entrenched in all things "fishy" (at present also working on a child's room mural of under the sea complete with coral reef and its inhabitants) I went looking for some live inspiration.

Upon finding the aquarium I noticed 3 chaps standing outside the building.  With a closer look I noticed they carried sketchbooks.  They informed me that the aquarium had been shut for years.  I asked if they were artists?  Of course they were and what good luck, I'm an artist too!  I burbled out about the fish in the back and what it was for only to find that the oldest of the trio, an art professor at the local university rather had a different take on my, shall we say, "artistic enthusiasm"!
He approached the car and told me that painting fiberglass animals was distasteful to him artistically.  He also counseled that artists have ideas and that painting these things were degrading to fine artists!

Hrumph! I say.  Told the man that I've been making my living as an artist for over 20 years.  When the paid work gets done, then I can make anything "fine art" I want.  As he tried to back pedal a bit saying that I didn't understand him, I reminded him that this is an age old conversation where fine artist's turn their noses up at anyone making a living as an artist, such as, illustrators, scenics, muralists, graphic artists, etc.  Isn't the current trend toward graphitti art now being touted as high art?

Driving off I kept thinking, is this what they're teaching students in art school? It's as if these newly minted independent artists wouldn't sully their hands on a paying gig.  So that must mean that for each artist that is brainwashed by this line of tripe will have to have an art patron or someone to support them.  They will have the idea that they are entitled to be rich and famous for their vision.

While it is true that each artist has their own unique vision, what's wrong with getting paid to paint or make what someone else wants?  How is that stealing art from you?  Each artist can always make what they want.  No one can take away our own vision for ourselves, but this warped line of thinking is going to create more disappointment than it is art.

Aspiring to greatness is the ambition of many in the art world.  Who wouldn't like to be praised for their art and command top dollar to collectors?  I dream about such things but in the meantime I spend as much time, paid or otherwise working at art as the breathe to my life.  It is all grist for the mill, fuel for the fire.  I cannot believe that a young art student wouldn't want paid practice to paint, sculpt, etc.

I think its time to kick over the traces and teach artists that the opportunities for art are both the exhibitions and in paid projects, commissions and yes, even silly fiberglass fish!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A soft Sunday always reminds me of home, the moist grass smell and the moodiness of darkening sky.  For some reason these elemental things make me feel happy especially when there's a cracking good lightening and thunder storm.  The air is charged and when the show is over the rain has washed away the drama to a soft quiet day. 

It is my soft day as well having just finished 4 canvases.  There's always a bit of a lull between finishing a painting and the starting of a new catharsis.  There's always work and always ideas to chase each day but I'm learning how to pace myself and find the simple answer to each new puzzle I create and not make things so complicated.  Good trick, that, if you can do it?  Yet, I do get such pleasure out of each new thing I create for with each piece I'm confused and fasinated all the more by the process of painting.

These paintings seem to have similar themes without my realising it.  In each there is an allegory to TIME.

In "Cell Body"  I took an older painting that I didn't like very much and re-invented the top portion.  It has depth and flatness which makes it accessible yet foreign.  The idea of "time" in this seems to me to be of the vastness of the sea and of the cells in our body.

In "Hours", another painting that has been kicking 'round the studio for awhile.  I had intended it to be just an abstract tree and seed pod of some kind, but after last year's situation with cancer is seemed ripe for further interpretaion.  Perhaps it will seem too heavy-handed but I incorporated drawing some "iv" tubing into the tree branch shapes.  I also used some gold wax over some rice paper that I stuck onto the canvas.  It is another step in further experimenting with adding other elements like drawing and paper to painting.  The name referes to "time" in the sense of the seasons changing and in the hours spent dealing with illness to wellness.
Further to the experimentation is "Tiger in the wood".  This painting started out from a digital collage with lots of detail.  Instead of rendering every little twig I started playing with gel and paint and splattering and came up with a layering process that I will probably not remember again but the feeling of  spontenaety with the paint pleased me.  So, at the last when I'd responded to the push and pull of marks, light and dark I used a dip pen to render a simple white tiger as if he's walking out of the fray, out of troubled times.  It pleases me for all the little marks that I could never have made as sweetly as accident can do.

Lastly from this current spurt of industry, "A wish to time travel" came about at the start as a part of the "wishing chair" series but morphed into a painting of a Norse boat suspended in a candy coloured sea either floating to you or from you with some abstract girders behind.  The simple abstraction of orange dots floating in front of the boat makes me think of the capsules of time as in the artifacts of history.  The last addition of inking in a dandelion gone to seed makes me think of how quickly time passes.

When I was completing this painting a friend stopped by to visit.  She told me that children make wishes on dandelions as they blow the seeds away.  I had never heard of this before, but she said that to her the painting looked like "a wish to time travel".  I told her there and then that she had just named the painting!

Finally, in speaking of TIME . . . what a difference a year makes?  Last year at this time I was in the throws of chemo.  This year I am cancer free and free to explore my heart's desire.  I'm fat and happy and not afraid to experiment my way into the future with my art!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

an uncommon spring

It's a spring here now that we've never seen before.  It is too warm for March but so lovely as to be able to sit and eat out of doors, ride our bikes and generally drop our shoulders.  Our winter too has been uncommonly light for living in the midwest of the country.  It all makes me wonder about the evidence of global warming?  How can we not see it?  Yet it is hard for we meager humans to take on such big ideas.  Most of us leave it all to the scientists.  Is my meager recycling even helpful to a world full of rubbish on a grand scale?  As an artist am I making tomorrow's junk mail?
   Yet we must carry on in our own time and do the best we can for making decisions about the bigger issues, even if it is like trying to spoon the ocean.
   How do we make each other see the things that need doing when we're consumed by our own little worlds of concerns?   I suppose I'm glad we can have the capacity to enjoy a fine day even if we know not why it is one too soon!  Some say there is no evidence of global warming, but does not this day seem exhibit A?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

always experiment with ideas

It's been a long while since I've written here and that is because I've been more active and feeling "recovered" from surgeries and chemotherapy.  This new life has it restrictions but experimenting with imagery and art isn't one of them.  So while I do my physical therapy and get stronger I'm never without thoughts of what sorts of paintings to do next. 

Recently I've been engaged with ideas for a series of "chair" paintings.  Mostly due, I suppose by a piece of artwork from an old friend that is still with me after many years.  A wiggly, wonky chair made out of telephone wire that sits atop a small box with a drawer in it.  It's called, "one of the wishing chairs".  It is no more than 10" tall and is getting a bit natty, but it is still a prized posession.

My "wishing chairs" are a tumult of colour and a chaos of ideas.  Always almost a story but not quite.  The most recent on is "Windmill Wishing Chair"  made up of images taken from the landscape around me.  The chair, a piece from an old neighbors aging outdoor furniture.  The windmills from a recent trip to Ontario where the landscape is littered with the large power generating propellers.  The barn is from a day trip running the back road in Lenawee county, MI.  Together they make sort of a "wizard of oz" mystique to me. 

There are two other "chair" paintings started in the studio.  One in particular has been giving me pause as to how to improve on its composition.  Playing with a dip pen and ink and some of my own line illustrations I've modified this image in preparation for rendering in paint.  Its chaotic but intriquing at the same time.  Well, at least to me.  There's a white tiger in it and another of the old neighbors chairs and an illustration of an acrobat about to choice one of the swings.  Is she going to swing over the tiger? 

I'd think I'm trying to say something about "courage" in this.  Not being afraid to make a choice of a swing and dangle near the sharp claws and teeth of a tiger.  But this tiger looks so tame, perhaps it won't hurt at all!?  At any rate, it is a bit of fun that makes me happy.

Another of the "wishing chairs" that is complete is one called, "The Hot Seat".  It started out to be a painting of a modest chair with an interesting and colourific background.  But by adding the fire on the seat of the chair it is much more mysterious.  Why is there fire on the chair?

I'm not sure how many "chairs" will come to fruition but the idea of sitting in a chair and daydreaming or thinking about ourselves and the moment or the future is something common to most of us.  Put the kettle on . . .

Saturday, January 21, 2012

some kind of reason

  The reason in my paintings is more than I can know.  It is not for me to know the culmination of the visible with the invisible, the psychological with the fantasy.  Only when a painting is viewed by another and their interpretation does the artist live.  My intention is irrelevant.  I have had the pleasure of the making but not of the meaning.

   In reflection I don't think my paintings speak of me in my time.  I don't see a relationship of their imagery to the current events of my time.  Rather they stand outside of time.  Some of that idea I like while yet at other times I wish they were more relevance in a larger play.  Yet perhaps the question is mute as I am in my time making what I will.  So, is that not relevant to the colour and air around me that is around you?

   I do not need the viewer to understand my intention.  I ask them to consider their own reaction, likes and dislikes.  I'm not so sure it is the role of art to bring "understanding" but rather to remind us that we are more than what we seem.  I thought as I grew up I would understand life and the world.  I have more questions now than I did then.  I "understand" less and less while still wanting more and more.

   Whatever "reason" exists between the art maker and the world is a mystery of proportion that only you can tell me.  I'm counting on the interpretations you will give to me.  Making art validates me but your reactions are life confirming and super sweet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

a contemporary commission work

Not much to explain about my recent studio venture other than to say that I'm grateful for every commission I get these days where I can stay home and paint and not take my wagon of an art department on the road.  My most recent pleasure has been afforded to me by long time art patrons and owners of several of my works.

This contemporary piece will hang in a lounge above a couch in a modern condominium.  It won't be hung for several months but for now it has pride of place in my studio until its delivered.  It was a joy to paint.  4 panels, each one 4' high but differing widths from 6' to 4' to 2' to 1'. It has a graphic feeling not just in content but in presentation.