April 2010


I am getting ready for my two person show at Page Bond Gallery that opens on May 5th in Richmond Virginia. I won’t be able to be at the opening so I thought I would write a few sentences about each of the ten paintings to help Page and Allison know more about each painting. While I don’t think it’s necessary to reveal every thought and intention, I do think it’s important to provide some additional insight.

The work spans an almost three year time period. The earliest painting is Backyard Block which I painted in 2007. Unbeknownst to me, this painting is the connector in my two main bodies of work, Roots and Branches and the Sewing series.  This really was the first Sewing series painting long before I knew there would be a series. The painting also references my idea about land and the idea of place that is more typical of the Roots and Branches series. The painting has never been shown before, in fact I almost sent if off unsigned, gasp!  I had never intended to show it because it felt like such a personal piece to me. I guess it’s evidence of my growing ability to let things go once I have processed through whatever was needed creatively. There are other paintings in the group that are strictly from one series or the other, but having never looked at them together I had missed some of the more subtle commonalities in the two bodies of work.

Reviewing, thinking and looking at a broader range of work created over a longer time span changes things a bit.  I feel really good about the work, first off.  Many of the paintings are stronger than I thought they were when I first finished them. Not that I felt that they weren’t successful, but something about them now feels more solid, genuine and authentic to me and what I am saying through my work. Keep in mind that many of these paintings have been out of the studio in a variety of galleries and shows so I haven’t seen them in person in a while.  I’ve just spent the last week getting reacquainted so to speak, inspecting the frames, buffing their surfaces, fixing any small blemishes and just looking at them. I feel like I have gotten to know them all over again and now I am sending them off for a new audience to see.

Seeing what is effective in past paintings helps to develop and push the new work.

When I reviewed the paintings, it helped solidify what worked to get my ideas across best.  I have a more clear idea of what I am trying to say now than I did two years ago, and I see where it worked well in older work and I want to push that even further. I want to emphasize those things and strip away the imagery and techniques that confused or weren’t completely authentic to me. It’s a great leaping off point for my studio work for the next several months, maybe longer. So I guess looking back really can help you go forward, at least in the studio. I’ve got some blank panels beckoning now, so stay tuned.

Okay, so this is pretty personal.  Maybe more personal than I intended to get with my blog, but here it goes.  I am not yet pregnant.  This is not a new condition, I’ve never been pregnant. When people meet me they almost always ask how many kids I have. I don’t.  It’s always awkward and I wonder why people assume that you have kids, but whatever.  It’s not that I don’t want kids, I just haven’t been able to get pregnant. Without giving medical details, I’ve known for about 15 years that it would be hard. Believe me, I’ve tried. Not as far as some of my friends, but I’ve tried.

Now that I am in my late-late 30’s, I now realize that there is no time like the present. But it still may not happen despite the upcoming regime I am about to embark on. And while dealing with infertility is no laughing matter, I like to make light of my situation whenever possible.  So here’s a somewhat but not entirely serious list of what not to say when you have a friend who is struggling to get pregnant. And don’t worry if you are one who has said any of the below listed to me, I still love you.

1. Don’t tell us about your neighbor’s best friend’s cousin’s college roommate who just got pregnant for the first time at 46. I’m pretty sure my eggs won’t make it to 46, but good for her.

2. Don’t tell us to take a vacation and relax. It makes those of us who have travelled the globe to get pregnant want to strangle you.

3. Don’t tell us to start filling out adoption papers and then we’ll turn up pregnant. I’m all for adoption and in fact I’ll probably adopt whether I get pregnant or not. But filling out papers only works for a very small number of women, and it’s almost always at the sperm bank.

4. Don’t offer maternity clothes to us. Nothing makes a woman second guess getting pregnant than looking at the big stretch panel in maternity jeans. You’ll only confuse us. And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work like the power of suggestion.

I am beginning another chapter in the quest to get pregnant, and this is probably the first time in a long time that I’ve been honest outside myself that I really do want to have a child. But don’t worry, you’ll hear no gory medical procedure details here. I promise to let you all know if I am pregnant, and in fact me, my husband, my father, my sister, my in-laws, friends and neighbors will shout so loud you’ll probably hear it before I get the chance to tell you myself.

And just in case, don’t be afraid to tell us “fertility challenged” that you or a mutual friend are pregnant. It makes everyone feel awkward and denies us the opportunity to be gracious.  In fact, tell us first. I’m pretty sure we’ll be happier for her than anyone else.

I just got back from five days in Santa Fe and I am spent. In the best possible sense. I am wore out emotionally, physically and mentally. I feel great.

I was in Santa Fe to help Paula Roland shoot her upcoming DVD about encaustic monotype. She invited me to come out and be her assistant, to help give input, ideas and overall support.  Our mutual good friend Jane Guthridge from Denver was there to help as well, and the three of us spent day and night together. We stayed at Paula’s house with her adorable dog Lefty and stayed up late, got up early, ate and drank, talked about art and told life stories.

Getting away is a much needed break for me. I need it visually, creatively and spiritually. I need some time with my tribe, creatives who walk the same road as I do. I need to get away and see new things and some familiar things too. While I was there, the trees started to bloom and spring was arriving in tulips and forsythia. Time in Santa Fe is like hitting an internal reset button. Even though we worked, the time spent there worked me too.

Jane and I were able to take a few trips around Santa Fe when we weren’t needed on the shoot. We made a quick hike up Canyon Road, spent an afternoon in the Railyard and made a trip to Santa Fe Clay.  We got lost quite a bit, driving in circles on Paseo de Peralta, eventually getting where we needed to go. We saw the shows at the International Folk Art Museum and enjoyed the textile and dress show on clothing from around the world. We had dinner with our friends Barbara Gagel and Linda Cordell and visited Barb’s amazing home and studio. By the way

Tulips in Paula's Garden

when I grow up I want a studio like Barb’s.

You might wonder how I met these amazing women. It was in a workshop at Ghost Ranch, Paula’s workshop actually. I believe that it takes a special kind of person to jump on a plane and take a workshop in an unfamiliar city, and I have found that they make great friends. Making art together is a bonding and unforgettable experience, and it forges friendships quickly. Some amazing opportunities have come about through people I’ve met in workshops. Many of these folks have become my dearest friends, despite the fact that we frequently don’t live in the same city.  So if you’ve never ventured out of your town or area for a workshop, you might want to try it. You never know who you might meet and I promise it’ll change you.

Nothing makes me more anxious than packing up my artwork.  Ok, almost nothing.  The “what-if’s…” take over and then I am stuck.  What if they get damaged? What if the gallery isn’t in love like they thought? What if the boxes get lost?  But it has to be done, and David is busy so it’s up to me to do it.  I need to conquer this aversion and having my fabulous and industrious husband pack my art all the time isn’t going to get me there. You know what they say, what you resist persists.

The 65x28x9 inch box just wasn’t going to make itself, so I set out yesterday late afternoon to do it.  Top Chef Masters was in rerun, so I treated myself to that in the background as I got settled in.  At least hearing about poached this and carpaccio that would help make it seem more fun. I got the bottom part of the box made, so proud of myself and I felt triumphant that it was square and the sides were the right size. I finally learned that you have to give an extra 1/4″ to account for the little bit lost to make the corners. I got the foam in, it fit, YAY!! Nestled the smaller 12×36 in there, got it all set, laid down bubble wrap, more cardboard to separate the two paintings and started on the top for the box. The cardboard bit back on that one – paper cuts are child’s play compared to cardboard cuts – but I got it done.

Then I forgot the 24×60 needed hanging blocks on the back before I could pack it.   This is where it got tricky and my spacial stupidity comes in. It was awkward to put the right one on, so I used my left hand to drill the screws in even though I am a righty. Just as I was feeling really badass and was jumping ahead to calling David to tell him so, the drill slipped and pummeled down on my thumb causing  big blood blister. Fun. Instant Karma jackass. But after 5 tries (no joke), one broken screw, and three do overs I got the blocks on with the hangers attached.

By 8:00 pm I had the paintings all packed up and in the box. One step closer to feeling better about packing art. No, not really but I’ve got to get past this anxiety. I know I am not the only one that has it but life would be easier without it.

So if you see me soon, you’ll notice that I’ve got two big bruises on my left knee, slight carpet burn on both knees, a 1/2″ long cut on one finger, and a blood blister on another.  That’s right folks, I’ve been packing paintings and I have the injuries to prove it.

I guess by now you’ve all heard about the earthquake that struck Southern California and Baja yesterday.  I did feel it, and like always I marveled at the power of the earth to shake and shimmy like a go-go dancer.  Having lived in this region much of my life, this was certainly not the first earthquake I felt.  There was the 6.something in 1990 when I lived on the 7th floor of my almost 80-year-old dorm building. And the large one when I was camping with my parents in an RV at the beach, on a cliff, overlooking the water, when I hoped Dad had set the emergency brake so that we didn’t take a take a short cut down the cliff to the beach. You get the picture.

Everyone that lives some place else can’t understand why I’m not terrified of earthquakes.  I have two words at first: Hurricane and Tornado. But truthfully, I lived through the Northridge quake. Earthquakes don’t scare me anymore. I was finishing UCLA and was a nanny for a really amazing family.  I lived in the guesthouse by the pool, my life was pretty damn perfect. The quake hit in the early morning, it wasn’t quite dawn. Everything in my little guest house fell off the walls, crashing down around me. I grabbed the only pair of shoes I could find, a pair of sandals. Stupid, but anyway.  I dodged the waves almost as tall as me coming out of the pool to get to the main house. I made it through the main house in my sandals, through the kitchen littered with broken glass bottles of vinegar which I didn’t even smell in my panic. I got to the family at the back of the house. They were prepared with the radio, the gas had already been shut off and we hunkered down through the after shocks. Later on we took at tour of the neighborhood and saw plenty of destruction. Houses where chimneys had taken down entire walls of homes, exposing them like doll houses.  Really upsetting to see peoples lives exposed and falling apart. The freeway overpass near the house had collapsed, making for a terrible mess of construction and commutes for months to come. But I survived.

Reminding myself that I survived helps me to not fear them now. Reminding myself that more than likely I’ll live through the next earthquake too. Whether it’s a real earthquake, or some other change. Some seismic shift in my life that threatens to shake my foundation. I’ll remember back to a time, a situation or circumstance, that really shook me up good. I’ll remember that I picked myself up, took stock and moved forward.  Here’s to not fearing earthquakes.

I had the pleasure of welcoming fellow painter Cree Scudder to the studio on Thursday.  We’re both in the midst of painting for upcoming shows.  She’s painting for a show in Florida and mentioned that the host for the show asked her for a body of work that she feels doesn’t represent where she is right now in her creative growth.  So the question came up: Do you paint for where you were when you got the show or do you paint where you are right now?

It’s a bit of a quandry in my mind as it was in Cree’s.  How do you go back and trace through creative questions that in essence were already solved? Is it possible to do it up fresh, staying true to where you were and where you are going at the same time? Or does that just come off stilted?

I’m not sure. I told Cree to paint where she is now and let the chips fall where they may.  That was my gut response and I suppose I stick with it. I feel like if you are true to what you want to say, many of those that supported your visions and ideas a year ago will support them now.  There’s always going to be a thread running through the work if you create from you own perspective and let go of what the expectations of others will be.

Now I am going to print this out and put it up in the studio to remind me.