Thursday, July 16, 2015

Working Summer 2015

Painting has always been my true north. I paint outside because it's such a messy, sloppy process.  The floor of the porch is covered with paint, as will be my legs, shoes and apron as the days proceed.
July in Albuquerque is usually hot, but, thanks to climate change, we've had an unseasonably cool and wet summer.  Working outside connects me to my small part of the world:  our dogs racing around, neighbors going by in the street, the wind, the rain, the sun, smells.
With this painting session, which lasted about a week, I tried to act on whatever my creative inner voices told me to do.  At this point in my life as an artist, I have an overload of materials:  paints, tools, surfaces, and miscellaneous items that I used to paint with including but not limited to mops, brooms, sanders, and ladders.  So, it's finding, pulling out and using what I need as I need it.  Since the paintings are abstract, I'm only reacting to the painting itself, not what they can or should be.
The paintings that emerged from this session were lighter, cleaner, and simpler than what I've done in the past.  When I finished, I felt that they were the best paintings  I'd ever done, but then, I always feel that way. 
It rained heavily one afternoon while I worked, so I took one of the paintings, with wet paint on it, and set it in the rain to see what would happen.  The results were pretty great.
At the end of the week I had over 30 paintings that I felt were absolutely stunning, most fairly small.  I sat with that good feeling for a few days, but then realized I had to come up with surfaces that would be better than the paintings alone.  My good feelings turned to ones of mild anxiety as I start trying to figure out what to put on top of these lovely things.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thoughtful Man 2002

"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened"  Mark Twain

7:30 a:m on a Sunday and I was getting dressed to go for a run.  My husband came into the bedroom, pale and anxious and said he needed my help.  Worried, I hurried to finish dressing and found him sitting at the desk in the family room with his laptop open.   "I can't get this to work.  I just don't know what to do.  I feel terrible".  He was due to leave for a week long workshop in Colorado, a seven hour drive, and was trying to post a letter of recommendation to an application portal that was due the following day.  It wouldn't let him in. I couldn't help.  His despair deepened.  I suggested he call the listed contact number  the first thing the next morning for help.  "But everything is here in the computer" he groaned, "and I've got to get going".   I reminded him that the computer was a laptop, and he could take it with him.  His face brightened. I made us some breakfast, we ate, and he drove away, free of his burden IT burden.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Woman with Old Age 2003

In 2002 one of my students had just turned 60, and to show us that being 60 was no big deal, she stood on her head for us and I took her her photo.  Now, 14 years later, and well into my 60's, I marvel at how old I thought 60 was at the time.  Somehow, somewhere,(if we're lucky) this sneaky thing has happened, or will happen, to us all:  we will find that we are old. We will come to realize that, with great good fortune, we may have only another 20 years or so to live.  Our parents will be dealing with either serious disabilities, be dying or have died.  Friends and acquaintances that are younger than we are will discover a serious illness, or die from accidents, illness, or some terrible misfortune. Our hair and beards will turn gray, we will have to bend our knees and will grunt when we lean over.  For women, chins hairs will sprout like unkempt lawns. For men, morning erections will be only a faint memory.

But we are still the same us inside, still making the same silly mistakes that we have always made.  We are still sure that we will live forever  and think of death and misfortune as something that happens to someone else, but not us.  We swear that we won't make the same mistakes as our parents who refuse to go into assisted living even though they can't see and can't remember, but, of course, we will.  We carry bad feelings about family members, and it's only when they come down with a serious illness that we realize how foolish we've been, and how much time we've wasted thinking bad thoughts and saying hurtful things. We think if we don't eat sugar, and cut grains and processed foods from our diet, our memories won't go, and we will avoid pain and discomfort because we exercise regularly. I'm hoping that at some point we will acquire wisdom, patience, and tolerance to substitute for all that we've lost.  However, I'm afraid we may just keep bumbling along, just as we always have, thinking that as long as we can stand on our heads, we will be okay.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dog on a Chain 2001

Currently, we are in possession of three dogs:  Cash, a large, 8 year old brindle mastiff on loan for the summer from our youngest daughter Teal; Sophie, our 11 month old Dachshund, Min-pin cross added to the family last December after Junior, our autistic Dalmatian crossed over on the Rainbow Bridge; and Niko, our 5 year old Rat Terrier.

I'd never owned a terrier before we got Niko.  He was one or two years old (the go-to vet age when no one really knows for sure except that they aren't puppies and they aren't old)when I found him on Craig's list and added him to the family.  He's a very handsome guy, and incredibly athletic.  He is sweet, even tempered, and, for the most part, pretty easy going.  He weighs in at 16 pounds. However, he is a killer.  The breed was bred to go after vermin(hence the moniker), so that anything that moves means that his entire focus is on that thing.  That also means that he is constantly alert to movement and noise, and, with incredible speed, will take off after anything moving.  He's so fast, and so intense, that in a moment he can be out of my sight, headed straight for some kind of big trouble.

When I really think about it, I feel terrible for the constraints I place on him.  He has to put up with the indignity of a leash, a fenced yard, and when he is free and running I'm always calling him back, pulling him away from the incredibly wonderful sights, sounds and smells of his Rat Terrier world.  Not only did I have him castrated, but, to add insult to injury, I bath him after each time he finds the most wonderful things to roll in--usually shit or a dead carp--completely nullifying the magic of the back deep in the ground, digging deep roll. He gets scolded for just being himself, for discovering and eating great great things(I don't even want to know). I watch him, I admire him, I love him and even with all the care I take, I  worry that one day, that Rat Terrier nature will take him too far away for him to come back.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

SS. Kindness 1998



When my daughter Teal was born, we found that we were in for the ride of our lives.  Emotion, power, and determination were all trapped in the body of a small female child who could out scream anything, and who could tantrum for hours on end if opposed in any way.  We often felt helpless beside her forceful strength. It was like having a tornado or a hurricane in our lives on a daily basis.  She grew, we grew.  She changed, we changed.  What saved us was kindness.  It was learning to have compassion for this small force of nature who couldn't help herself.  It was learning to love and appreciate not just the cute, sweet baby, but the small human being with the huge amounts of energy and will power.

Today she is driving from Kansas City to New Mexico to stay with us for a few days before heading on to a summer internship in Colorado.  She would have come yesterday, but weather maps showed the possibility of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms most of the way through Kansas, directly in her line of  travel.  I think she would have been fine--one force of nature to another--meeting the twisters and driving rains head-on, but, this way, her arrival ends up being on Mother's Day, and that's perfect for me.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Change 2015



Although I've used photoshop for years, I've only touched very lightly on what it can do.  Kind of like having a Porsche in the garage that you go and sit in, turning the steering wheel ever so slightly as you pretend to accelerate through a tricky hairpin curve at 90 mph.  But things have changed.  I decided this past year that I would learn more photoshop, and I've set about doing so.

Along with years of expensive continuing ed classes, I have picked up ways to use the different PS tools from many places, most recently, signing up for Lynda, the online IT learning program.  Along the way, I also picked up Painter by Corel, a kind of a fun, slightly trashy version of photoshop, and have learned to do more with my large Epson printer, having had numerous semi-heart stopping events where I got paper caught in the feed and the printer head made horrible grinding noises.  And lastly, I recently purchased an Intuos tablet to draw with, an event with another big learning curve.

With all of this, I have entered a brave new world, one with limitless possibilities.  I can now, by scanning my backgrounds, make different versions of the same image, and not lose my paintings in the process.  I can make an image entirely in Photoshop or Corel Paint, and then be able to make as many as I want, not just the one of a kinds that I've always done in the past.  I can do DASS transfers onto a panel, and if it doesn't work out, I can just print up another transfer and try it on something else.  My final image can live on in many ways:
1. on the screen only
2. as a "photo" on real photo paper
3. as a print on canvas, stretched or mounted on a panel
4. as a print, adhered onto a panel, then painted on to alter the surface.
5. lastly, the final image can be small, or huge, if I want to pay to have it printed out by a professional.

 I'm still learning and trying to figure things out.  Sometimes I go to bed at night with my head full of possibilities, other days, when I look at what I've done I think, "Crap, just a bunch of crap"--but-- interesting crap nonetheless.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ted Kuykendall 1953-2009

For years, Jim Kraft and Judy Booth's place in the South Valley was a refuge for many artists in the Albuquerque area, Ted Kuykendall and I among them, which is where I first met Ted.  Ted and I  were never close friends, but I admired and respected his work tremendously. At one point, when I was pregnant and didn't want to be in the darkroom, he developed a series of large prints for me that I later painted on.

Ted had the thing--he was the real deal.  His work came from a place that was unknown, only to be made visible as Ted did magic with his camera and darkroom chemistry. Of the work I'm familiar with, all have a sense of troubling oddness, as if we could briefly get a snapshot into his strange and dark dreams.  They are strange and unsettling, but quietly so.  His craft was his own, combining multiple images and then using chemistry to alter the surfaces.

Ted died in 2009 at the age of 56.  He had a heart condition.  His life hadn't been easy, and he worked primarily as a carpenter and a cabinetmaker. He seemed to never have had much money and lived  hand to mouth at times, yet he always continued to make work, and the quality and craftsmanship were superb.

Recently, while browsing on the photo-eye website and I came across some of Ted's images http://www.photoeye.com/templates/mSearchShowcasePowerSearch.cfm?keyword=ted+kuykendall&x=6&y=7 .  I was reminded of how much I had liked his work, and reminded, also, of what little commercial success Ted had had in his lifetime.  Few people knew /know his work. He was so very good, and yet so very under appreciated. History still has to write Ted's legacy and my hope is that his place in the world of fine art photography will end up at the very top.

*A lovely piece about Ted and his work by Stephen Fleming, Director of the Roswell Artists in Residence Program  http://www.rair.org/MarshellGallery-Kuykendall.htm