The Iceland Cometh

Enjoy in your heaviest parka, under your darkest night sky, with the coldest of fingers clutching the frostiest of beers. 

 Aurora Borealis 12x24

Aurora Borealis 12x24

nights.

 cold rainbow 12x24

cold rainbow 12x24

gotta pull over on the side of the road for these icelandic rainbows.

 Fog Lift 15x30

Fog Lift 15x30

cold mornings. 

 Hot Spring 10x10

Hot Spring 10x10

immerse yourself in the freshest water, warm from the earth.

 Icelandic Pony 8x8

Icelandic Pony 8x8

no luckier horseshoe than this.

 Lava Rock 12x24

Lava Rock 12x24

Icelanders trust their volcanic eruptions to the annual psychic predictions. My heart explodes over that.

 Ring Road 12x16

Ring Road 12x16

the perfect road trip,  Ring Road in Iceland. Go drive this, bring your bestie, rent a car with heated seats and be prepared to associate your playlist with these roads for the rest of your life.

 Steam Valley 8x8

Steam Valley 8x8

Magical Hills of green puffing steam. The closest I will ever get to a dragon. I like to imagine that I was running miles of tail, spine, head, soft blustery nose.

 Switchback 10x10

Switchback 10x10

Turn around, do it again. 

 The People's Pool 24x24

The People's Pool 24x24

warm water for all.

 Waterfall 12x36

Waterfall 12x36

Water is my favorite element.

Backburner

I am negotiating space between what i used to do and what i do now. a lot of things fall between, i think that’s what is described as the cracks.

summary: i’ve got a lot going on and the parts I am not going to address are those day to day items that fall in the cracks.

is that incorrect? does it make sense? i’m referring to basic motivational needs; food, sleep, care, driving, cleaning, bathing, importing/exporting (costco and winco and the corner store).

I DON’T CARE, I’M TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF THINGS.

I used to be a painter, like, all damn day long: when all of you were sleeping and also when i didn’t want to paint and also when i wanted to paint and also when i felt irritated or lost or stupid or broke or embarrassed and also when I felt focused and blew my own mind. really, I just was a full time painter.

Now I am a student. I feel an immense pressure to make sure that what I am pursuing has a validity that makes up for what I have walked away from.

SNOOZE.

I really love going to math class. I feel like ramona quimby every time I pull out my pink pearl eraser. I have a pencil sharpener that someone asked to borrow from me FOR THE FIRST TIME and it was a connection. Math is riddles, and i’m starting to understand them. When I solve quadratics I find myself making notes that translate into painting exercises. my focus is nursing but my heart keeps conceptualizing.

this confuses me. I’m working to be a nurse but my mind maps aren’t giving up on themselves. 

sometimes on thursdays I get a day to paint. It feels like everything, those hours, but within an accumulation of minutes the day is gone. 

I really love painting. I’m not gonna argue this point because I’ve been exemplifying that since before I even lost my virginity. I think I painted about that, less love involved.... 

When I started school I said goodbye to life as a full time painter. It felt good and exciting. It felt like shit and a breakup, “we aren’t good for each other right now. I want the best for you. I think we will probably make out a few times before I stop answering your calls."

i gave up painting much the way i gave up smoking: abruptly and yet till later. 

sometimes I love something a lot and decide it’s best to step away for awhile in pursuit of something I want as well. I did that with step aerobics, I did that with abusive men, I did that with this weird app that tracks how much or how little toast I eat, I did that with Coke Zero. 

you might say, “smoking is terrible and should be given up forever” and i say “potato”.

you might say, “painting is wonderful and shouldn’t skip a beat” and i say “tomato”.

i love a lot of healthy things and unhealthy things at the same time. I hope that makes me human but maybe it just means i haven’t read enough self help books, written by other humans who have read more self help books than I?

I think a more accurate description of giving anything up is to set it aside.

Setting smoking aside went a lot like this: 

 -no, i don’t want to.

-okay, i will join this tobacco cessation group.

its okay to be the only 33 year old in a room full of baby boomers. 

-i don’t even smoke anymore but i hate everything.

-oh, i’m pregnant, what a convenient surprise!

-i’m a good person now.

 - gonna leave the group stealth - ish.

-my life is clearly on track.

-for now.

i consciously chose to leave behind something I relied on for calm and pleasure ( despite all the research that says cigarettes are the antithesis to calm and pleasure). I believed the reward would be positively weighted.

cessating anything is quite lonely. cessation is a discipline. it is saying goodbye everyday to an inanimate object/action that cares nothing for the formalities. But, setting aside painting is surprisingly more complex.

For one, I don’t have a painting cessation group to attend. No Debbies and Rogers to share craving stories with while we roll stress stones between our fingers. No worksheets. No affirmations. 

no surprise biological responsibility to hold me accountable and reward me with a love/joy reward. 

painting isn’t stigmatized so it doesn’t hold a morality bias over my conscience. 

i consciously chose to leave behind something I relied on for calm and pleasure; ( despite research pointing to how painting elicits calm and pleasure. just didn't paint about it.). I believe the reward will be positively weighted. 

This is when I stop talking about smoking and speak entirely about painting. 

mainly because they aren’t the same thing but also because I started smoking again so painting is really hanging out there by itself like a lone ranger. 

HA! i bet you were proud of me there for a minute, examine that.

Nowadays my studio is often  a parking lot for somebody’s inflatable horse or car, a grocery cart filled with plastic strawberries and plastic toast. I kick all of these things out on thursdays to mix the wrong color and then try again for the right color. I stare at unfinished pieces that have missed their deadlines and live in an unworked limbo.

I am as new to my pieces as the eighteen year old that first started down this path. 

this is embarrassing.

or

this is humbling.

painting now, It is a privilege; a release, a discovery, fun?

what a mindfuck, to return to the why i started.  

I want to cultivate that. 

I want to reach that vocation I care deeply about, to serve as a hospice nurse. In doing so I will free up space and time to indulge a release such as painting.

meanwhile, in the cracks, I have those weird vivid dreams that make me that think I did something awful/extraordinary when I did neither. I go running and swimming and smoke a cigarette in the parking lot with the chlorine radiating off of me or at the trailhead while an app reads the stats back to me. I don't know what the hell i'm doing. I'm just a human that wakes up at an ungodly hour and makes decisions before and after a late breakfast after a late night. 

new mantra: gonna do this thing so i can do that other thing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Do We change, and Do We Really?

My college degree came with a 500,000,000 price tag (or something close to that, it was probably more) and the elusive PAINTER pedigree, coveted by few, glamourized by all. 

I loved college. Incubated in creativity, it was the first time I felt that my inclination to explore slow thought in a mindful way had a place to seed, nurse, thrive. 

What was I like in college? I have been trying to remember because I went there for a reason. 

Angry! Sensitive! Serious! Naive! Precious! (self-absorbed)

 I feel everything, I talk about everything.

I feel everything, I talk about everything.

Work was at the forefront, any artist will tell you that hands on practice is how you hone your craft.

Discipline became a mantra. 

A studio is cute, but without hours logged it's an empty room. 

And then there's concept.

What a beautiful thing to have a great idea. But without a ‘why’ how is an idea any different from a passing emotion, from passing gas. 

I graduated with that painting pedigree 14 years ago. My class was small BECAUSE IT WAS AN ART SCHOOL, and each graduate had the opportunity to address our courtyard audience. I don't remember anything any one of us said. I remember what I wore. 

Isn't that strange, to accomplish/survive a pile of something and remember such insignificant bits? We do it all the time: a wedding boiled down to the leaning cake, a car crash summed in one noise, birth as violence, a first kiss smelling only of a cup of coffee from a coffee shop you never returned to. 

I began painting very young, little vignettes of the circus (which I had never been to). I painted my mother and a friend that hurt my feelings. Then I painted things I imagined. Then I painted things I hoped for. Next it was every experience, a narrative to my life. 

My work life was big, my discipline thorough, my concept started to slip.

Hours logged, time accounted for. I was doing the work, but where was i going? 

Fourteen years passed. 

Fourteen years accounts for multiple gallery representations and subsequent showings, and if i toss in the the title of SOLO it just sounds like a big fat sexy success story. 

Oh, friends, the politics . . .

Fourteen years includes things like working my ass off as a waitress, smoking my anxiety down to hundreds of ciggy embers, piles of broken friendships, just a lot of no money but a plethora of generic brand greek yogurt, a divorce, so many all-over-the-map lovers, a new marriage, a sick parent, yoga, running, whiskey but then beer, a big fat magical baby, twitter, and at least six personal reckonings. 

This list, it fucked up my concept. 

College let me care about myself. We should all care about ourselves. But we don’t. Caring about yourself is a selfish concept. The dictionary has no words for it that don’t imply narcissism:  self-absorbed, egocentric, conceit. I literally just listed them all right here.  

 Listening and Hearing are not the same thing. 

Listening and Hearing are not the same thing. 

Painting is like this: a pile of plastic materials coupled with insufficient words for any experience. The melding of the two is a chemical and human alchemy resulting in tangible work for the spectrum of pain and joy we live WITHIN but can not find words for.

I have been schooled in painting, I have that pedigree (did i mention that? It was very expensive and super important) I toiled,( and that’s very important).  I am very good at what I do. It has taken fourteen years for me to comfortably assert that (as a painter, as a person, AS A WOMAN).

I am not famous, I still have no money, I have an impressive resume, I have a loyal following, I have anxiety, I have huge bodies of work behind me, I have everything an artist needs to successfully have their midlife crisis and I’m so ready for it. 

wait. i’m in the midst of it. 

I recently changed direction. I enrolled in school and signed up for late nights, night classes, night homework, eventually night shifts once I finish the Nursing program.

I love the work so far. Time continues to be the most precious commodity I own since having that fat and magical baby. Work consumes my schedule and it is playdate, homework, painting, playdate, homework, painting, playdate, test, repeat.

Discipline. fuuuuuuccccck. I used to wake up from nights of playing pool and karaoke only to fry two eggs and walk outside of my house for coffee simply to force the momentum of the day. (i refuse to give readers a measure of time based on years for this.)

2 year olds love eggs. They force your ass to the kitchen for coffee. It’s all morning hell no matter the decade.

That leaves us with concept, my least favorite  of the triad. Whats and Hows are the best, so easy; I’m gonna make this thing, with these other things.  

but Why?

I am thirty six years old, young and really paying attention to being alive.

I am thirty six years old, appreciating ibuprofen and doing the math/ health risks to reach 90.

 Womanhood exists in a dark quiet place.

Womanhood exists in a dark quiet place.

My concept memories were formed in an unkempt university orchard, a bar that didn’t check i.d.s, bus rides that took me all over the city at all hours. I cared about love, imagination, survival.

Painting supported all that, those are free existential concepts.

Concept present is my SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE, carseat properly positioned, all over the city at baby friendly hours. 

I care about love, imagination, survival.

Painting does not support that, those are not free capitalist concepts.

I cashed in my painting card to the local community college this spring. My expensive degree and slightly less than 10,000 hours did not translate into transferrable credit. i’m starting from scratch. 

That’s okay, I’ve done it before.  

 I'm so angry and happy at the same time.

I'm so angry and happy at the same time.

School has been a trip. The hours logged are a lot of work and I have to discipline myself to find the hours outside of stay at home parenting. 

But the concept, it’s as free and personal as it’s ever been. 

Six hundred years from now, when I’ve reached that ridiculous surreal age of forty something, I will have my registered nurse license.

New materials, new audience, but still, love, imagination, survival.

 

 

 

SAD (SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER) or just life.

i’m stuck on ten paintings and this has been going on for nearly ten months. 

 I love green

I love green

september past: simple antipasto renderings. these could be something. more meat. more shellfish. i remember italy. it was as great as philadelphia, just different. i’ll make ten of these. i can do anything. 

october past: succulents are like roses, which are like meat because they come in shades of pink and red. like wine. and the insides of those green olives nobody else likes. i’m basically traveling. like old times. every breakfast in italy was a flat bun pitched with olives, sliced, provolone fromage slabbed in between. i ate the hell out of that. washed it down with wine, or coffee, both, didn’t matter, i’m 24 years then.

november past: herbs. 

december past: cheese?

january of this year: depression.

february of this year: if i cared about anything at all i guess i’d enjoy antipasto. does it matter though, do we eat to live, do we care to live, what do i eat if i care to live but living feels fraught with responsibility and incredibly expensive/not as simple as cold beer, coldcuts, and a heavyset podcast subscription? 

march of this year: you can NOT put cigarettes in the antipasto paintings. they aren’t food. choose fruit. choose life. 

april of this year: get some foliage in there, fruits don’t grow on air. think stems. think vase. find a place to exist, get a context, get a vessel, get a grip. 

 green is hard to paint. 

green is hard to paint. 

may of this year: tobacco plants? 

june of this year: awareness is ground cover. politics build laurel walls, tyranny is perennial, activists are new shoots, shitty people are weeds, we can be human annually. Prune your life. 

july presently: flower time, motherfuckers. 

august: TBD

 green seeker

green seeker

April Showers bring May Flowers

Introducing "Beauquets", May 2017,  current exhibition at hall/spassov gallery.

I am one year into motherhood for the first time. Mother is a title, woman is a state of mind. Here I've tried to put on canvas the endless confusion, the surprising discoveries and the simple happiness my new life is bringing me.

This collection is inspired by and named for my daughter Beau. She has refreshed my water and caused me to see all things anew.

 Beauquet

Beauquet

This was a self portrait, just me and my daughter Beau. Then someone asked me, "which one are you?", the guardian angel or the baby.  I've been at a loss ever since, upended.

 DreamCatcher

DreamCatcher

Sleep is elusive as a new parent. Sleep has always been this way for me, fraught with dreams and an anxiety that debilatates once the light of day goes away. 

It's different now, sleep waits for me but i can't ever catch up. Wakeful nights with a baby are disruptive in a whole new way, the exhaustion sizzles but i find new reserves for every feeding, every repeated song, each fitful rocking. 

Two dreamcatchers hang above my bed; a gift from Beau's godmother, they watch over us as i try to teach her the strange habit of rest. 

My dreams in day have been realized with her arrival. My dreams at night have changed in their content. What will she dream for in life? How will I help her catch those and find their meaning. And, in fairness, will she even need me to?

 Family Tree

Family Tree

Beau showed up and formed us into a family. Her arrival and subsequent planting of her place in our trio brings up more questions than answers of where her father and i come from. We look over at eachother recognizing what we bring into this dynamic from our own upbringings, wondering what we will pass on, hoping for what we may start anew. 

Considering our own family dynamics brings a new awareness of our place in the community, the world at large. This piece functions as a universal family tree.

 Senior Prom

Senior Prom

Every spring the students of my neighborhood get dolled up and promenade in our parks and ballrooms, hitting one of those milestones we dream about as kids and fondly commiserate about as adults.  I love glamour, I love romance, I value the right to create memories for a full life. I firmly believe that not only do Black Lives Matter, but they matter in the daily simplicity of growing up and growing old. It's my responsibility as a citizen and my duty as an artist to create work that gives a voice to life being lived in fullness by everyone around me. 

Every year I look forward to prom season which falls in the month of may and watching boys and girls treat eachother as men and women. For better or worse, from birth till death, we are all in various states of dress-up.

 Take My Hand as the World Blooms and Burns All Around Us

Take My Hand as the World Blooms and Burns All Around Us

The current political climate looms over everything. Tensions are high as freedom gets called into question and injustices are exposed in real time. We have a planet that is physically rebelling against our own carelessness. Flat earth theory is a real thing.

It's easy to feel all hope is lost. Hell, I'm scared. 

Yet, the flowers keep coming up from the earth and the rains change in scent with the seasons. i am here, trying to grow, and i continue to take your hand as the world blooms and burns around us.

 Fish, Flower, Friend

Fish, Flower, Friend

I'm consumed with understanding my own beliefs of the mystical world. I feel compelled to have fair and free answers for my daughter when the inevitable questions come. But in the meantime, the simplicity of our daily discoveries simultaneously enthrall her as they comfort me. i tell her "this is a fish, this is a flower, let's make a new friend".

 Mother Mountain

Mother Mountain

The softening of my heart as a mother has healed many past hurts i've carried over the years. Empathy and compassion come faster and freer now. She and I share a tenderness I hadn't known before. But her innocence brings out a solidity in me necessary for protection and guidance. She is my meadow while I am her mountain, as my mother is mine and I am hers. 

 Me and Beau

Me and Beau

I currently live in the Pacific NW, our weather is mild in comparison to the rest of the country. I've known the winters of New England, the humidity of the Midwest, the steady mild rains of Kenya. But I think i speak for many people when i say it's been a grey winter. My paintings, though, are coming up roses.

Tu Me Manques (I Miss You)

I haven’t traveled in a very long time. I’ve been missing that; packing, temporary goodbyes, airport/train/taxicab anonymity, temporary new hellos, getting used to unfamiliar air and nighttime sounds, perspective shifts, new goodbyes, home again home again. 

 The Changes Happen All at Once I 31" X 49" acrylic on canvas

The Changes Happen All at Once I 31" X 49" acrylic on canvas

I love revisiting this body of work, painted in an old convent over a short year in a tiny french village I moved to in a September. 

 The Changes Happen All at Once II 31" X 49" acrylic on canvas

The Changes Happen All at Once II 31" X 49" acrylic on canvas

We had a market, two boulangeries, a post office, one tabac, and the train station

 The Changes Happen All at Once III 37" X 37" acrylic on canvas

The Changes Happen All at Once III 37" X 37" acrylic on canvas

the countryside went back and forth from wide open fields of cows with wide open faces, to sherwood forests lined with wildflower trenches. I ran a lot back then, I jogged through the transition from fall to winter to spring, I got to breathe an entire breadth of seasonal airs. 

 The Changes Happen All at Once IV 25" X 37" Acrylic on canvas

The Changes Happen All at Once IV 25" X 37" Acrylic on canvas

the convent was cold stone with a warm kitchen. all the colors are here in these paintings. they feel so old and soft to me. 

 The Changes Happen All at Once V 25" X 37" acrylic on canvas

The Changes Happen All at Once V 25" X 37" acrylic on canvas

I miss that home. I can see everything I left behind, simplified in form, scent, sound; garden, staircase, farm, road, bread, milk, piano, stone.

 The Changes Happen All at Once VI 31" X 41" acrylic on canvas

The Changes Happen All at Once VI 31" X 41" acrylic on canvas

One day I arrived, and then I was there, and suddenly I was home again. 

 The Changes Happen All at Once VII 31" X 49" acrylic on canvas

The Changes Happen All at Once VII 31" X 49" acrylic on canvas

The Changes Happen All at Once 1 - 9 were painted at PAF in St. Erme Outre-et-Ramecourt . They are on view at Gallery 903 in Portland, Oregon.

Let There Be Joy

"We believe all great art is founded upon the use of visual abstractions to express beauty.... To us, seeing is the greatest joy of existence, and we try to express that joy..... We do not believe that painting is a language. Nor do we try to "say" things, but we do try to fix upon canvas the joy of vision...In other words, we are not trying to illustrate a thought or write a catalogue, but to produce a joy through the use of the eyes. We have much to express, but nothing to say. We have felt, and desire that others may also feel." - Taken from the Manifesto of the Society of Six in 1925 as recorded in Edward Doro's unpublished essay circa 1957.

100_3992.jpg

I'm hard pressed to remember if i've ever taken time to write of the joy of painting, and yet when i discovered this manifesto i found the statements to express better than i am able the integrity behind why i continue down the path of this impenetrable career. I'm so busy angsting, questioning everything i do and encounter in this business that my heart lives permanently in the backseat. lets take it for a joy ride.

my kindergarten art teacher changed my outlook forever demonstrating that the brown of a tree trunk is made up of many colors of the rainbow messed together, immediately destroying the tedium of trunks and giving me a key to reproducing nature, i was all powerful. 

 my life as an eight year old consisted of a game i invented called Valuable Old Art Treasures.  i would spend hours creating images of the circus, crumple the paper into a tight ball, submerge it in water, let it dry in the sun and then hide it in the house somewhere so i could happen upon it and make millions later in the week.  

The next 25ish years were spent gathering every art material i could find, piling it into my various studios simply for the sheer joy of discovering what it could do and to ensure preparedness for any art emergency. i've had many manner of art studios and have learned that it's not really location location location, although the thrill of location was definitely worth pursuing for a time as it changed how i valued light and noise and flights of stairs versus elevators.  i still own and don't share the first paint set gifted to me by my high school art teacher whose name i've forgotten but whose encouragement i have not. underpainting still gives me that unrealistic idealistic jolt of fantasy that maybe now i'm finally on my way to MOMA. i once left all my clothes behind in a convent in france so i could haul a suitcase full of paint back to america. i dragged that 50 lb. beast up and down flights of train station stairs trying to get from the deep countryside to Charles de Gaulle airport. i love color, i love paper, i love how my brushes have become an extension of my hand, i love the infinite variations of line. on a yearly basis i consider giving it all up for a "real" job. on a daily basis i guard my studio hours fiercely and dread the day i may need to get a haircut and a real job. 

these days my studio is the most humble i've had since i was a teenager, the spare bedroom in our little apartment in our small town. i moved my workspace into the home once my husband and i learned we were going to have a baby, started socking that studio rent into a hospital bill fund instead and i prepared to work from home rather than haul two dogs and a newborn to my former workspace. i threw out nearly everything, kept the bare minimum. all those years of discovering (wandering), collecting (hoarding), experimenting (experimenting) have currently settled into a minimal bliss. I am no longer prepared for every art emergency, but i have what i need: paint, brushes, canvas, paper, easel, brain. 

this new phase has me painting on a sporadic time table and for a new audience, one whom is most often perched in my formerly free arm. she is learning how to see, and the pure joy of it brings a new level of joy to my work. she watches me make marks and i make more just to please her. she hears me name colors and i name more just to please her. even more do the words of that manifesto settle over my studio these days, "we do try to fix upon canvas the joy of vision...to produce a joy through the use of the eyes. we have much to express, but nothing to say. we have felt, and desire that others may also feel." 

 let there be joy

let there be joy

painting delights me, plain and simple. the challenge of it enrages me, brings me to tears, leaves me pacing, cursing, gloating, yes. it is expensive and takes up space and storage, it makes little profit and is most often misinterpreted. it is hard. it is soothing. it is considered dead. it is my first love, it will most likely be my last.

 I Hope When I Die It Is In Bed With My Lover 48x60 acrylic on canvas

I Hope When I Die It Is In Bed With My Lover 48x60 acrylic on canvas