I came across this draft on my blog, reminded recently by a friend that I haven’t blogged lately. I know, I’ve been a bit busy. More than busy. When people ask what I like to do in my spare time, I’m tempted to tell them it’s the same thing I am doing when I am working. Fearing the answer will make me seem one-dimensional, I tell them I love to cook (true), sail (also true) and…. yep, paint, paint some more, look at paintings, think about paintings, talk about shows with paintings and occasionally gossip about paintings, and hang on, other painters. The last three years, however, have led me down a path I suppose I was always destined for but took a while to finally materialize. In the last three years I’ve earned my teaching credential, cleared it and am teaching k-5 art at High Tech Elementary in Chula Vista. And now when I’m not painting, I think about how to teach kids to paint, or what it might have been like to paint with cataracts like Monet, or a brace like Chuck Close.

It’s not all roses and martinis everyday, but overwhelmingly the things I do to make a living are all rewarding.  I’ve hesitated making the announcement public to the art world, wondering if I needed to cross the two and how that would be perceived by galleries, curators and other artists. I guess I still have the impression that artists who have day jobs are taken less seriously. Just look around, there are a ton of blog posts out there by artists who have a variety of stances on this topic.

Of course there are a lot of artists that do have day jobs and paint full-time, and I thought about keeping my painting career and my teaching job separate when I blog, post on Facebook,  Google +,  and all that media out there that helps me promote my work. Just to make sure that no one thinks I am going to be a less serious painter. It’s disingenuous however. Doing so would be to pretend that I am not completely passionate about education, about bringing art to young minds, and addressing my fears that as a culture we are losing the next generation of American artists. Few things frustrate me more than to watch young, talented students who have a viable career ahead of them skip art school for med school or an engineering degree, because we all know you can’t make money at making art. Bullshit.

So my official position now is that I am both: an artist and an educator. I realize I’ve always been both, my time and energy divided between both, for really the last 20+ or so years. Some years I’ve spent more on one or the other, but now I am at a place if I may be so candid that I am resourceful and creative enough to do both, simultaneously, and well.


Confession time: I still listen to the radio. With the iPod, iTouch, mp3’s, Pandora, and Sirius radio options, not to mention the soon to be outdated CD’s, it’s possible these days to never listen to the radio. Even my Dad, who now claims he’s in the 20th century with his iPhone, and don’t get me started on the hours of hilarity this has provided, even my Dad is listening to Pandora.

But it dawned on me in the car the other day what I would miss if I stopped listening to the radio. As a kid I spent plenty of time in the car. Whether we were moving across country or driving to see family hundreds of miles away, the radio was always on. Looking back on it, my parents listened to a lot of music, some good some not so good, but it was always on.

The radio has become a roulette wheel of sorts, a “what song connects to a childhood memory” adventure down memory lane. Is it Blondie’s Heart of Glass and driving to the swap meet when I was nine and we lived in the god-forsaken desert? The Fleetwood Mac song that was on the radio when traipsing to the Coors beer waterfall with my aunts? Or is it that Joe Jackson song that was on the radio when we drove to my aunt’s wedding in a snow storm? Not to mention the Saturday Night Fever album that they played relentlessly, which I now blame for my love of disco.

These are memories are unintentionally buried some where under my to-do list, what I need to get at the grocery store and the constant reminder that I still need to make my dental appointment. Memories that are sweet, mostly, and remind me of all of the experiences that have culminated to today, as I listen to the radio.

I know, I’ve said it before, it’s been a while since my last post. I guess when I started this blog I thought I’d never run out of ideas. I haven’t run out of ideas, just time. And so while I was thinking about all this, I thought I’d sit down and blog about something no one wants to talk about when they have a blog, which is that some of us are okay with not blogging the commonly accepted minimum of twice weekly posts.

I’ve read all of the blogs that encourage me to blog. I’ve gotten newsletters that tell me the way to build a following is to be a faithful and frequent blogger. I’ve listened to creative coaches, successful people with “brands” and lots of others that talk about how they got there through blogging. I am happy that worked for them, but the truth of it is that I don’t always have the time and energy to share and be on “transmit.” So there, I said it, and I know some of you are sitting there shaking your heads and others are nodding in agreement. Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell me which one you are unless you really want to.

I figure I only want to take up space in the blogosphere if I have something that I think is interesting to share and is worth your time. So here are the highlights of the last several weeks:

In May I was in New York to attend the opening of the show, Making their Mark, I curated at Susan Eley Fine Art. Included in the show was David Kidd, Chase Langford, Audrey Phillips, Maria O’Malley and Lisa Pressman.  Here are a few snapshots of the opening, courtesy of Maite Agahnia, an amazing painter, who flew out to hang out with me and see the show.

Maria O'Malley, SOLD!

Chase Langford

Lissa Pressman, Audrey Phillips and me

In June, I taught a lot. I had a beeswax collage workshop that was a huge hit. I spent a weekend in Three Rivers California teaching monotype for the Three Rivers Arts Alliance, an organization that proves you don’t need a ton of people and a boat load of money to infuse art into a community. If you have never been to Three Rivers, which sits just outside the Sequoia National Park, add it to the bucket list. I stayed at the Sequoia Motel, a charming place, the kind with the pool in the front, owner on site and a dog to greet you.  It reminded me so much of the kinds of places we’d stay at when on family road trips. There weren’t a ton of restaurants in town, but then again everyone was so friendly and hospitable that I had dinner invitations every night. The workshop was at St. Anthony’s Retreat Center, a peaceful place up in the hills with amazing views. I can’t wait to go back.

The classroom view from St. Anthony's

Sequoia Motel

So that’s what I’ve been up to, oh, and painting of course. Don’t know when I’ll blog again. I’d love to say that it’ll be real soon, but seeing as how I showed my cards in the first paragraph, who knows when that will be. I do, however, promise to try and make it worthy of a blip of space in the blogosphere.

I’m not someone who puts a lot of stock into analyzing dreams. Unless they are particularly crisp, I don’t think much about them the next morning. I know, I might be missing all of the answers psychotherapy never provided but I guess I’m okay with that. I used to dream about painting and paintings, but now I do that in my waking hours so those dreams don’t happen very often anymore, so my dreams just seem like snipets of pictures with vague details..

Having said that, the last week has been a particularly dream interesting week. The most fascinating one involved me being given a Ferrari. Little secret about me: I am car enthusiast. Not in a “Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny” kind of way, but I like cars. I also really like to drive and have been known to exceed the speed limit on occasion. I blame genetics for that one. Anyway, imagine my delight. Couldn’t wait to get in and take off, until I noticed the bald tires. Another secret about me, I am neurotic about tires. Genetics again – truck driver grandfather and safety conscious father made me that way and my husband backs it up by constantly checking not only my tires but those of my friends and pretty much anyone who parks in our driveway.

Instantly in my dream I think, what the hell good is this going to do me, a Ferrari with bald tires??  And it occurred to me when I woke up that if ever there was a dream that held more meaning than the obvious, this is it. I’m not really sure what the bald tires signify specifically, but there are some obvious points to me in the dream.  What good is an amazing piece of Italian machinery if you can’t really use it to it’s full possibilities? I feel like there are areas of my life that aren’t firing on all cylinders right now, so my personal piece of machinery, whether it’s my body, my mind or my spirit, aren’t quite at optimum.

This is what I believe life balance is all about – how we all do our best and on any given day something gets out of whack. I do my best to keep it all on track but sometimes one area gets so out of whack all I can think is: FUBAR. Look it up. But back to the dream, it’s a clever and creative way for my mind to remind me to check my tires. This Ferrari requires some tread so I think it’s time for some new tires.

“I feel so bad I couldn’t talk to you!” was the message from my friend Maite Agahnia this morning. She and her fellow artists of the art group Art6West had an amazing opening last night at India Street Gallery in Little Italy here in San Diego. I was thrilled she didn’t much time to talk to me, but not because I didn’t want to talk to her.

Maite Agahnia, 5th Ave., 9:44pm

Maite Agahnia, 5th Ave., 9:44pm

To my thinking, it meant that she was sharing her work and inspiration with people who didn’t already know her or know her work. That’s the point of an opening – it is a chance to share your work with new people. I’ve been lucky to watch the work progress over the last several months. I know about as much as a third person could know about the work, which is a real privilege. Last night was the chance to share it with others and by the crowds that were there, plenty of people now know her and her work and I couldn’t be happier we didn’t get to sit and chat for very long!

I also got the chance to briefly talk with the other ladies in the show, three of whom I know as well. Cree Scudder has some amazing new work that is pushing into new territory.  Brenda York continues to inspire me with her smart whimsy, both in her work and her life. Bronle Crosby blew me away with her technical skill in her portraits of the other 5 women in the show. I had to laugh as my husband and I walked over to see them. I had introduced him to Cree and Brenda, both women he’d never met before, and when he saw their portraits on the wall it was great to hear him react, “Hey, that’s the Brenda we were just talking too! Oh my god that’s good! And the other woman you were talking to!!  And there’s Maite’s portrait!!” If I ever needed a portrait of someone, she’s the one to do it without a doubt.

It’s an amazing show. Go see it if you can, it’s up until February 20th. They’ll have a closing event on the 17th from 5-7pm if you want to chat with them in person which I highly recommend. So I am curious, who do you talk to at openings?

If you don’t know it already, I love food. I also love to cook, and by most accounts from people I have fed over the years I’m damn good at it. It’s a wonder I have any time to paint, given how much time I spend cooking, thinking up recipes, shopping, browsing epicurious.com and watching the Cooking channel. So I was watching Chuck’s Day Off and he did a salad of sauteed cauliflower, bacon and arugula.  Three things I love. So I thought on it a couple of days and decided I’d try my own version of it last night for dinner.

Announcing that I was trying something new to David, the inevitable question came, “Do have a recipe or are you making it up? If you are making it up you better write it all down while you are doing it because that’s usually the good stuff and you always forget how you made it,” he said. So I figured I’d sauteed the cauliflower and added add asparagus to it. Then I decided to make a warm olive oil, shallot and mustard dressing, tossed everything with the baby arugula and topped it with an egg cooked over easy. Sprinkled it all with some chopped bacon and we were good to go.

The first bite was sheer genius. Everything came together and sang in my mouth, which is watering this very minute thinking about it. Second bite, equally amazing. David was star struck, claiming it was probably going to go down as his most memorable food moment ever, high praise given the fact that I’ve been cooking for him for almost ten years. So mid mouthful he grabbed a pen and paper, tossed it to me and I started to write down how I did it: Chopped bacon, sauteed cauliflower, asparagus, dressing, egg. Done.  YUM!

“No!” David said, and taking the paper, he started to write down all of the details, because as he said if I don’t write it down it’ll never be quite the same again. This is my payback for subjecting him to my cooking shows – he’s beginning to know more than I think he does about cooking so now he’s making comments, like shouldn’t I cover it? and don’t you think it needs a little more oil? and did you already salt that? don’t forget the salt because you usually do.

This is all part of the fun, the banter back and forth across the stove. It’s become part of our evening ritual, sitting down to talk about our day and poke a little fun while I cook dinner. Turns out I have enough of all the ingredients left to make it again, so we’ll be having it again tonight. And to keep it interesting, I’ll change out a few things, just to keep David on his toes.

This past weekend was the LA Art Show. I try to go every other year, and this was an “on” year. I was curious to see some of the new galleries, all of the Chinese galleries and the work in general. My friend Maite Agahnia went with me, it’s always more fun to be astounded with a friend.

First stop was Chase Langford‘s studio. I’m curating a show in New York, more on that later but I wanted to see his work.   Amazing work, check it out, and you’ll be hearing and seeing more as the show gets closer. It was a highlight of the day to be sure.

We arrived at the Convention Center, grabbed a bite, and headed into the show. The crowds were large. It was hard to see some of the art, I felt herded through some of the aisles, taking on the pace of the crowd because everyone was so packed in. The crowd was mixed, some collectors, general public curious, the occasional art student and the artists dressed so as to be sure to be spotted as the creatives in the crowd.

Maite and I made one round, chatted with Sue Greenwood and Maria O’Malley with Sue Greenwood Fine Art and then decided it was time to have a drink and a seat. We grabbed a beer and found a small spot in the lounge to hang out and chat. We sat down next to a young woman who was having her ear chatted off by a man in a UCLA track suit, talking about college and tuition and such. I over heard her mention that she wanted to go to UCLA art school, that she had just sent in her application and was waiting to hear. He proceeded to pontificate on all of the perils of the art world, apparently he was a biochemist at UCLA and knew all about how hard it was to make it in the art world. Call me a skeptic but I didn’t think he knew his ass from his elbow when it came to being an artist. I asked Maite, “Do you think I should interrupt?”  “Good luck, it doesn’t look like he’s going to quit anytime soon,” she said.

I made a break for it, tapped her on the knee and told her that I overheard where she wanted to go to school and that I went to school there. You’d think I told her I was Santa in the off season. Instantly the old man glared at me, how dare I break his trance over the young impressionable! She had numerous questions for me, and so I answered them honestly. She wanted to know was I glad that I went there? Was it worth it? What am I doing now?

All of a sudden felt like I was seeing myself as a 17 year old girl, curious and scared and unsure but charging forward anyway. It was like I went back to give myself advice I so wished I’d had then. Check out the faculty, know what you want to learn and see if they are going to teach it to you, be true to who you are and find the school that fits you. I assured her that she could make it, not to listen to people who tell you all the reasons why it’s not practical to be an artist, why they should just do it on the side and be responsible and get a proper degree. Gratefully, this is when the man got up and left.

I probably should have given her my card, but I was so in the moment that I didn’t think about it. I suppose it’ll be one of those instances we’ll both look back on later, a coincidental passing, a momentary connection. And I wonder if she’s telling the story today, about how a woman who went to UCLA sat down next to her and answered a bunch of her questions about art school. What are the odds? Indeed, what are the odds.

There. I said it. Grief is a sneaky bastard and I feel like I have the right to call it like I see it. The last two years have been full of loss for me. Not looking for sympathy here, just stating the facts. The most significant was the passing of both of my grandfathers and my teaching mentor Karin Baker.

Grief is tricky. I cried and cried, and I guess I thought that while I’d be sad the active part of grieving would be done and I ‘d get on with it. Somehow like I’d get to cross it off my to do list. Turns out, grief is a bit more persistent and sneaky than that.  Some of you may know this already, but I guess I just hadn’t experienced so many losses so close together to feel like before I had healed from one another happened.

So yesterday I was finishing up my lesson plans for summer camp at the New Children’s Museum. I haven’t taught camp in a couple of summers, mostly because San Diego Museum of Art closed down their program in 2009 and that was the primary place I taught, plus I had stopped teaching most programs so I could paint more.

As I was writing my lessons and coming up with the game plan, grief knocked hard on the door. “Who would you most like to call right now?” it asked. Karin Baker. She would know the best plaster recipe, the best place to buy the electrical wire and probably know how much it would cost, plus tax of course, and she would loan me her hard to find Calder Circus video.  But unless I can get AT&T to place a call to heaven, it isn’t going to happen.  And that’s when it hit me, teaching kids brings back the grief of losing Karin.  She was like a mother and a mentor to all of us who taught at one time or another at SDMA and her loss hit all of us really hard. Most of my colleagues have continued to teach kids, and in fact most are classroom teachers and do it every day. I had left that behind to pursue painting full time and don’t think I realized how closely teaching kids was woven together with my love for Karin.

Thinking about what to teach, materials to use, making sure I have a good mix of media, that women artists are represented, looking through the art supply catalog, all reminds me of Karin. I remember the first time I placed an order for materials to teach 4-6 year olds. I wanted googly eyes for a puppet project. I got a brief email back from Karin, who I hadn’t met yet, which just said, “no googly eyes, and by the way don’t order glitter either. Ever.” Classic Karin, and I can hear her giggle as she hit the send button. Turns out, we had glitter, but it was called “dreaded glitter” and was brought out in only the most dire of teaching situations. And that’s the part that makes me laugh, remembering Karin and her wicked sense of humor, her calm ability to deal with any classroom catastrophe, and her forever generous mentoring. And then comes the grief, the missing. So I sit with it, just as I am doing now as I write this.

I’ll be processing through this more in the days and months to come. I’ve got a new adventure ahead, not quite ready to reveal it yet, but let’s just say it’s a dream job and I’d love to call Karin and tell her all about it.

You’ve heard of emotional eating right? Well, I think I am an emotional cooker.  Today is my grandmother’s 90th birthday, and for a variety of reasons I couldn’t make it to the party this weekend in Denver. So, thinking I’d be calling between breakfast, lunch and the party, I called my sister. But I called during brunch. So everyone is there, having a great time and chatting away. It’s not a bad thing, but certainly makes me wish even more I was there. I am the only one left on the West Coast now, and once every now and again, okay frequently, I think maybe it’s time to move closer. I got “passed around” as it were, chatting with my extended family as the cell phone got passed from person to person. Almost like I was there, without the 36 hour turn around flight.

My consolation prize? Quiche.  Today is quiche day.  I’m making a “what things do I have on hand” quiche. So, it’ll have oven roasted tomatoes, ham, scallions and onion, caraway, thyme, provolone and mushrooms. That’s what I love about quiche – you can pretty much put in it whatever you want and as long as the egg/cream ratio is correct, it’s a success.

Cooking is my solace – it’s nurturing, creative, spontaneous and since you have to eat it’s also a necessity.  So while I am not where I’d like to be today, I’ll be eating a fabulous quiche in a bit and taking comfort in planning what’s for dinner.

This has been the theme of late – delayed gratification.  Delayed, sort of like my blogging, but I digress….

Small Flower New Mexico II, 7x21, monotype

Turns out I sold two monotypes that I created almost, gasp, 8 years ago. Another monotype that I made almost 4 years ago was just selected for a large scale hotel project. I never would have guessed it – nobody told me that it would take so long sometimes to sell art. I still really like the pieces, and I suppose somewhere along the way I figured they might never sell and I was happy to keep them. Happier to sell them though!

So back to blogging, I’ve recommitted to getting back to a routine.  It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, just that I found when I had it to say I couldn’t break away to get it written.  And thanks to the couple of people who actual made a point to tell me they missed my posts. I promise not to make you wait so long between posts!