Saturday, April 15, 2017

Dog Barking 2017

 In trying to make drawings that took away most of my control, I came up with the idea of using dog's hair. While petting our dog Sophie, idly collecting her hair in my hand as it came off, I suddenly saw the beautiful chaotic spiral that the hair made. I put the clump on a sheet of white paper, and took it out to my studio where it sat for several weeks.  I finally got around to photographing the hair and then tried using the image as an abstract, but my figure making self wouldn't allow me do it. I began to "draw" with the hair.  It seemed only fitting that one of the first drawings to come out of this new process was of a dog, an alert male dog doing his dog job of letting the world know that he was taking care of things.  Since then, I have done many more of these "hair drawings", and have begun to amass baggies full of not only dog's hair, but my own(from my hairbrush), my husband's and different friends hair after haircuts, not to mention wire, cord, metal findings, frayed rope, dried snap pea stems and tiny wadded pieces of paper sprayed with India ink.  The most banal and mundane objects in my life are now all grist for the mill.
Sophie's Hair

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Floating

In 2004 I turned my back on the paints I loved, and started painting with plastic.  I had painted with oils for over 30 years, and found that I didn't have anywhere else to go with them.  With the acrylics, I had an entire new planet to explore, and explore I did.  Now, 13 years later, with about 20 tubes of Gamblin oils given to me by a friend, I find myself, once again, painting with oils. It's a very different experience from the acrylics I've become used to--like going from a Unitarian service in California where everyone is wearing flip-flops, to high mass in a Catholic Church in Rome where there are candles and chanting and mysterious men clad in dark robes and funny hats. The oil paints have a rich heaviness and stay wet forever, letting me blend colors and add and change things even a day or two later, while the acrylics, while immediate and fresh, once they are dry, or drying(within minutes of being applied)can't be altered.  I'm rediscovering my brushes from 14 years ago, and remembering what each one does, some with only a hair or two left from so much use.  I'm not sure where this will go, only that I don't want to repeat what I did all those years ago, hoping that I will find a different way to marry my photographs with paint.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Guard Dog 2016

Almost two years ago, our youngest daughter wasn't able to keep her beloved Mastiff cross, Cash, with her, so we offered to keep him until she could.  He settled in nicely, with two smaller dogs to hang with, a huge backyard to protect and defend, and a steady supply of sun and dirt to bask in.  We've grown to deeply love this dog, with has steady dignity, deep intelligence and quirky, funny ways. However, in loving Cash, something has moved in me so that now, whenever I see any kind of large animal--elephant, horse, bear, lion, etc.--I find I have a deep connection with them as well, something that I didn't have before Cash came into our lives.  There is something about his size or his dignity that attracts me to these massive beings.  Movies with Elephants especially can bring me to tears.  Cash is in his last days now, having stopped eating, and mostly sleeping.  It's just a matter of time before we call the vet.  I will miss him so very much, but at least I will able to keep loving him through this new connection to the large animals in my life.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Standing by the River 1997

The River Styx (Greek: Στύξ, Stux, also meaning "hate" and "detestation") was a river in Greek mythology which formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld.

Sometime around the year 1996, our friend, Bob Zachary, had to have open heart surgery.  While the surgery was being performed, he was connected to a heart-lung machine. During the surgery, to my simple, magical thinking artist's mind, he wasn't completely alive, but neither was he dead, just in a nether land between the two. After the surgery he had a beautiful scar going from his throat to the middle of his stomach, with two incisions on either side. It's still there, but not really visible after 20 years.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunset 2017


Sunset: the time in the evening when the sun disappears or daylight fades,
a period of decline, especially the last years of a person's life

I had had an image of retirement as a glowing beacon far off in the distant future, a time where one would have no cares or concerns, but instead would lounge about, wearing one's robe and slippers all morning, watching as much TV as one's heart desired.   And then, wham-mo, it's there and it's not quite what you expected.  For one thing it's a sign that the end is near, even if that end is 20 or so years away.  It means that of those 20 years--if you are lucky--you only have perhaps ten more years of good health and reasonable facility.  If you are lucky. That's not much time, just a blink in the eye of an 80 year life span. Your identity from what you did professionally is no longer valid.  Who you were and what people thought of you shifts, and you are suddenly free floating, not really sure who you are. And while the time seems short, suddenly your days are wide open and you aren't sure exactly what day of the week it is, or how you will fill that day.  You know each day is precious, but you can't quite seem to get out from under that filmy gray cloud of depression and anxiety.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Anderson Ranch Immersive Winter 2017

On January 8th of this year, at 4:30am, I left home in our little Mazda, loaded down with suitcases, art supplies, cross country skis, and snacks for the drive.  I was headed for Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado https://www.andersonranch.org/, a nine hour drive over a high mountain pass with  a ferocious winter storm forecast to hit later that same day(hence the leaving at 4:30 in the morning).  I made the trip safely, and was settled in by the time the storm did hit, dumping lots of snow in the Colorado high country. 

For the next three weeks it snowed and snowed and snowed.  Every morning when we headed out for the school, tediously scraping the snow and ice off the windshield of the car, we could hear the cannons booming in the mountains, releasing the snow that could cause dangerous avalanches at the nearby ski area. And I loved it(except for the tedious scraping). In the mornings I would meet and work with my group of nine students who were learning to integrate their photographs with their own painted surfaces.  However, the afternoons were mine.  I was given a large studio to work in(half of the printmaking area), a brand new Mac, and a large Epson  printer( I had brought the rest of what I would need with me).  And while it snowed, I worked and worked and worked.  No meals to prepare, or dishes to wash, or errands to run.  Nowhere to go unless you were bundled up in hat, gloves, boots, and down parkas.  When I left on Jan. 28, after three weeks away,  I had over fifteen new paintings in the back of my car--fifteen new paintings that were unlike anything I'd ever done before.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Woman with Yellow Arms 1987

In 1987 I was still forming the vocabulary that was to inform my images for many years to come:  my figures were becoming more and more simple, often with stick like arms that are outstretched, either in an imploring gesture or showing fear or distress.  Although the images were always based on a photograph(I painted with oils directly on top of a black and white gelatin silver print), the mid to late 80's seems to have been the time I started to discard as much of the photograph as I could get away with.  As with Woman with Yellow Arms, there is no photo that I can discern, only the drawn scratched lines which reveal the darks and lights of photo beneath.

In 1987 the world was an anxious place for me.  I was only 35 at the time, and working through many personal issues as well as dealing with the larger concerns of my world.  At that time we had been living on the Zuni Indian Reservation for four years(we stayed for eight), and was I becoming familiar with their customs of masked dancers:  a figure inside a figure, something that I was completely fascinated with(and still am).  When I look at this painting now, 30 years later, I see a love of the painted surface, and a struggle to define a complex personal view through a single figure.

* Woman with Yellow Arms is going to be included an exhibition at the Tucson Museum of Art called "Body Language:  Figuration in Modern and Contemporary Art"(Feb 25-July 9, 2017).