Sunday, April 18, 2021

Two Friends 1981

This past week my husband and I attended a memorial service for a young friend who had died from cancer, leaving behind a wife and two small children. One of the people that spoke at the service was his best friend from high school who choose to read a poem he had heard on a blog driving to the service from Denver the day before. It was about friends and friendship. The poem caused me to  think deeply about my friends and what they mean to me, how important they are, and what a big place they fill in my life. Recently my husband and I were away from home for five weeks, and I so acutely felt the lack of my friends--their support, their sympathetic ears, their kindness and concern--that it was almost palpable.

When I did this painting 30 years ago I remember taking the photograph of these two young woman standing together at a horse show.  I loved the way they stood so closely together even though there was plenty of space around them, the one woman's hair flowing into the other woman, her left foot canting ever so slightly. At the time I don't think I really thought much about the women, just that I liked the image of the two, enough to then do a painting from it. It's now owned by one of my closest friends from that time, and that seems right.



Monday, March 15, 2021

Painting February 2019


 I start my pieces by painting first-always abstracts.  This February I finished eight pieces on small washes I had done in 2014, but had never been able to figure out how to use the paintings, much as I loved them, but was finally able to do so now, 7 years later, and I loved the results ( One Face IIII ).  I was trying to remember how I had done the washes, and really couldn’t.  It had to do with water and a spray bottle and maybe a little bit of rubbing alcohol, and maybe on a surface of that was prepped with dry wall mud.  Maybe—or maybe not. Who knew?  So I started out with my wash brushes and water and paint and a spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol and a number of panels and canvases that I had already prepped, some with dry wall mud, some with just gesso.  Almost all were surfaces that I had painted over of older paintings. My plan was just to “experiment”since I had just committed over $800 to having large panels made for me, and I wanted to have an idea of where I needed to go before I started on the “good stuff”.  What a joke.  Turns out “experimenting” means the same thing as cut lose and try anything you can think of on any surface that you have prepped in the studio and just hope that you remember how you got there because you certainly aren’t taking any notes. Some 20 paintings later I was thrilled with where the water and paint and isopropyl alcohol had taken me, all ready for something new and unexpected to happen on these beautiful new surfaces.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Grey Horse 2021

I've written in my blog about the events surrounding the discovery of Stormy, the wonderful five year old horse that appeared in my life last February.  Now, a year since this magical being came into my life, my involvement has only gotten deeper and better.  He is a very big guy, and still kind of a baby, the equivalent of a 15 year old person. In order for us to work together, just as I am becoming part horse, he is becoming part human.  I have a sense of wonderment of being part of this animal, of learning to understand his body movements and for him to learn read mine: what his ears are telling me, how subtly can I move my body and still have him respond, what is he trying to tell me when he bobs his head down and won't let me put the bridle on?  Is something wrong, or is he just being a teenager?  When I think of all that has gone wrong in this past 12 months(and who knew it would get SO bad)I have Stormy to think of, and it makes it better, a little glow in the darkness.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

One Face III 2021

As I head into the close of my seventh decade of making images, I'm always impressed by just how hard it is to make something that works visually as well as being new and unique.  Some naive part of me wants to think that once I've figured out how to make a great image, then I will have the secret, and I can just go on making those great images, listening to an audio book and snacking on gluten free chips as I work.  Unfortunately it doesn't work like that.  It's really the opposite: once I've figured out how to make an image work, then my creative self gets bored and won't work with me--and always in a very passive aggressive way.

In 2014 I made six beautiful ink washes as grounds for my images, but they were so beautiful that I couldn't ever get them to work when I tried placing something on top of them. And so they sat on my unfinished shelf year after year.  A few weeks ago I pulled them out and started placing different bits of photographs on top of them. Some worked, but not really, just kind of.  However the thing they all had in common was that they were faces. I would build an image, then pull it off,  then try something new, then, dissatisfied once again, pull the new pieces off. I was confused, and frustrated, and lost in the chaos of trying to see something I had never seen before and so  I kept struggling with them.  Finally, the order of the pieces began to emerge, and it had all to do with using just a very minimal application of the face: lips, noses, and eyes.

Then I let the washes do the rest.  Faces, but almost not faces, all six were finally born.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Forest Mother 2008 & 2021

Forest Mother 2008

In 2008 I did a residency at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. It was the first time I had ever lived for an extended period of time on the East coast, or had lived in a climate that wasn't Western. The forests and the greenness were completely new to me, and I tried to get to know the area a little better through biking and on my daily jogs and walks out from the school. I photographed lots of trees, along  with the leafless kudzu, which covered huge swaths of the forest, choking out the native species. This piece evolved as a reaction to the forest, and the destruction of it that I saw in and around Roanoke.  The Forest Mother, whose body is made of the trunks of the incredible trees I found all around me, is crying as she leans over a body hidden in the forest floor, whose hands reach up beseechingly. The image is about loss and despair. 

Forest Mother 2021

This more recent Forest Mother, I did as a spin off from another piece, which I blogged about last month in a blog called Transformation. The piece resulted from the middle image, which I thought at the time to be too sweet, but I still liked certain elements of it.  This Forest Mother emerged, and was much more at peace than her predecessor, done 13 years earlier.  With her two guard coyotes and snake at her feet, a rabbit in her arms, and two birds perched on her shoulder, she has an air of calmness and wisdom and seems to be saying,"I'll take care of you wild things, not to worry". When I compared the two, it was interesting that this Forest Mother would be so much more positive than the one done in 2008. I think Forest Mother is less about the state of the big world, and more about my smaller world, a considerably more pleasant place to be than it was 13 years ago.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Transformation 2020

Coyote Mother started out as Girl with Two Dogs WalkingI loved the fierceness of the girl, her blouse covered in red splashes(blood?), and the two tough little snarly dogs next to her large bare feet.  I worked for several weeks fine tuning the figure:  The head made from a grafettied wall with just the right lips, the two small eyes next to the large grafettied eye, the hair made from snake's bodies, and even the angle of the leashes had to be adjusted and then readjusted--not too tight, not too loose.  Finished, I was ready to glue it down. But then, when presented to my husband, it got a lukewarm response and I backed out with images of the piece sitting in my storage for the next twenty years, unloved and unseen.

Next came this image:  Woman with Two Dogs Walking.  Dogs stayed the same, the hands and leashes stayed the same(although I made the hands smaller) all else changed.  Again, I spent a long time fine tuning the image, printing out head after head to get just the right feeling of  bewilderment and confusion as the two dogs took off in different directions.  What could I keep from Girl and what had to go? The lovely Red splashed top went, the hug bare-feet, the perfect little green miniskirt, all  back into their prospective boxes to (hopefully) be used another time.  Finished at last, I called in my husband again, and, while I didn't get a lukewarm response, I didn't get wild approval either.  Then, when I compared the two, I actually liked Girl better, not quite so saccharine.  Despondent, depressed, ready to throw in the towel, I thought to try one more time.

Coyote Mother unfolded herself, and a mother coyote, out for a walk with her two rambunctious pups made her appearance. The hands, the dogs and leashes(but not the dog's heads)and the basic central format stayed the same, but all else changed.  This time the piece came fairly quickly, decisively.  The little snakes on the ground showed up to remind us that you can't ever be too watchful as the pups check in with their mom, looking for reassurance and guidance. The trees and the animals, everything in the image, are all made from and of nature. Then today, while working in my studio, hearing our dogs barking hysterically, I glanced out the window to see a male and female coyote loping easily along on the other side of the our fence. And I knew that this time, at last, I had gotten it right.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Humpty Dumpty 2009

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Hubris:  excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

Hubris, to me, is one of those words that doesn't sound like what it is, probably because I want to assign humble to it, and it's the opposite of humble.  To me, this image is about hubris, my own included, but I can't help but see it everywhere.  I did the painting soon after the melt down of 2008.  Talk about hubris!  People confident that they could make money hand over fist to the detriment of us all.  In 2016 our hubris in assuming Hilary Clinton would win the presidential election--we were all so confident that our side was right and would win.  Arrogance in calling the supporters of the other side, "deplorables" as if they didn't matter and didn't have ears. 2020 and we have a pandemic--people assuming that they won't be susceptible to this terrible terrible virus, that, like a cobra, hidden in the grass, can let 100 people go by but then strike and kill the 101st, and kill them a horrible way.  2020--the presidential election--this time the hubris of the sitting president who is so arrogant and confident of himself that he completely ignores the terrible virus and encourages flagrant disregard of the most basic of safety precautions. It causes him to lose the election.  And then hubris in the biggest arena of all--a civilization that isn't taking care of it's home, the planet.  Arrogance in assuming it will be just fine as we pull the planet to pieces bit by bit.  And this will be the biggest, hardest fall of them all, and we might just not be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.