Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Ghost 2022

 My mother-in-law died on Dec. 25 at the age of 95 1/2.  She had severe dementia, but up until the very end, she was still gracious and polite, her hallmark characteristics. I wasn't there when she died, but the staff at her care facility had been looking for signs of her coming death(skin color and feel, depth of sleep), and they had alerted the family so that they were able to be with her when she died. My mother had died two years before, and with both, I wondered at where they were, where they wandered, what they saw and knew when they left their bodies.  At her service, her eldest son, an evangelical minister, talked about the glories of walking on a road paved with gold, able to rejoice in no longer being demented, able to see and hear again with ease, and able to know all in the presence of God.  I thought it curious that he was so sure of where she was and what she was doing, and I wondered to myself if she felt lost and alone, confused by the sudden end of all that she knew. Was she afraid, or, as her son felt, free of all the worries and concerns that burden us in our lives? Or, as my fantasy goes, having searched and having found the perfect new life, was she ready to be reborn as someone else, in another body, with another life to live?

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Woman with a Baby 1991

In 1991 my husband and I had two daughters.  One daughter, Ramey, was four at the time, and the other, Teal, was one.  It was a mind blowingly new experience for me.  The two girls, were, of course, polar opposites, so what we had learned from being Ramey's parents didn't really apply to Teal-- completely new rule book.  Having the girls was such a cataclysmic event that I now see my life being divided into two halves: before daughters and after.  I hadn't gone into motherhood with any confidence about the kind of mother I would make, but the powers that be knew what they were doing, and, to my surprise, I found I was actually a capable  mother.  They girls are now adults and recently Ramey presented us with a grandson, who is currently one year old.  I was filled with trepidation about how I would be as a grandmother, all my parenting of babies skills being long forgotten. But once again, the gods smiled on me, and I found myself head over heals in love with this small, extremely powerful little man. The main difference being that this time I know just how quickly time will pass, and that, in the blink of an eye, our new baby won't be as a baby anymore.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Working Face 2021


 Almost four years ago my husband, Robert Wilson, retired from his sports medicine practice.  He had always loved art and been drawn to it from an early age. Part of the reason that we worked so well as a couple was because of his deep appreciation of my work.  In his first months being retired, he took a welding class at the local community college, bought himself a welder and a mask, and learned not to wear clothes that might melt or catch on fire. Although he had always kept a hand in making things, he now had the time to really devote himself to it.  He loved it: getting dirty, creating a mess, becoming completely absorbed in the process of making something. He began to draw--landscapes with charcoal and graphite--and then he started the arduous task of learning to use watercolors, drawn to the stark county of Southern New Mexico and the rugged Sandia Mountains that rise to the East of us.  No longer having to live in his head as a physician, he has become the person he was always meant to be. Robert Wilson

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Sad Woman/Distant Man

Marriage: Any close or intimate union

Upon googling the differences between men and women this is what I found on the website of  the Relationship InstituteI thought it odd and weirdly biased, as if written in the 50's, but yet still with some truth to it.


  • A man’s sense of self is defined through his ability to achieve results, through success and accomplishment. Achieve goals and prove his competence and feel good about himself.
  • To feel good about himself, men must achieve goals by themselves.
  • For men, doing things by themselves is a symbol of efficiency, power and competence.
  • In general, men are more interested in objects and things rather than people and feelings.
  • Men rarely talk about their problems unless they are seeking “expert” advice; asking for help when you can do something yourself is a sign of weakness.
  • Men are more aggressive than women; more combative and territorial.
  • Men’s self esteem is more career-related.
  • Men feel devastated by failure and financial setbacks; they tend to obsess about money much more than women
  • Men hate to ask for information because it shows they are a failure.


  • Women value love, communication, beauty and relationships.
  • A woman’s sense of self is defined through their feelings and the quality of their relationships. They spend much time supporting, nurturing and helping each other. They experience fulfillment through sharing and relating.
  • Personal expression, in clothes and feelings, is very important. Communication is important. Talking, sharing and relating is how a woman feels good about herself.
  • For women, offering help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength; it is a sign of caring to give support.
  • Women are very concerned about issues relating to physical attractiveness; changes in this area can be as difficult for women as changes in a man’s financial status.
  • When men are preoccupied with work or money, women interpret it as rejection.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

My Little Pony Introduces Herself to the Galactic by Teal Wilson 2021

This past weekend my husband and I drove to Aspen, Colorado to see an exhibit by our daughter, Teal Wilson.  The exhibit was at Fat City Gallery, in Aspen Colorado, and was a show Teal had been working towards for most of the summer.  I didn't know quite what to expect, but was somewhat apprehensive since I knew it involved "My Little Pony", the iconic plastic toy pony, first developed in 1981, and which has had several reincarnations since. As an artist, and the mother of an artist, I knew to keep my doubts to myself and hadn't either discussed the work with Teal or really known much about it, aside from the fact that it was "My Little Pony".  However, upon seeing the work, I was, as the cliche goes, "blown away"  by what she had done.  The images, 16 in total, were a complex combination of exquisite drawings of My Little Pony and powerful, black ink washes. But it was the titles that made the show so impactful, each one describing a complex and complicated reality that the ponies were caught up in.  Their cute coyness  became something else by the significance of the titles, titles like "My Little Pony and the Second Between Existence and the Gates of Heaven" and "My Little Pony Peers into the Celestial Plane".  She had done that thing that is so hard to do when making an image: she had captured our complete attention, with skill and patience, so that we had to look at the world in an entirely new way, treading the razor edge of both trite and profound.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Stormy 2021

 As a four-year-old child, I did some heavy negotiating with my parents:  I would give up my bottle in exchange for a pair of cowboy boots.  Of course, I needed the boots to ride horses, real horses, not a rocking horse or a stick with a horse head on the end, but a real horse.  Since that time, horses have been an important part of my life, and, consequentially, have been an essential part of the images I make. When my daughters were small, I gave up horseback riding on a regular basis, and no longer owned a horse, but kept my connection with them through my art.  Then, at the beginning of the pandemic, I was given an incredible gift:  a young horse named "Stormy", whose life I got to share—to train, to ride, and to simply just enjoy. 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Dog at the Door 2019


Although "Dog at the Door" is not really a saying(it's"keep the wolf from the door"), it was my way of talking about danger coming, trying to stay safe from problems, worries and difficulties. I did a series of three paintings, all some kind of canine at the door and all about that danger. In  March of 2020 I did another blog about it , Coyote at the Door(Five Trees).  It was interesting rereading the blog and seeing how these paintings still pertained in the little over a year since I wrote it, but also how they didn't.  In the year since, things got worse: George Floyd and Black Lives Matter unfolded, more friends presented with serious health issues, covid raged out of control, the political situation got more and more dire, the capitol was stormed after Biden was elected president and an unremitting drought that continues here in the west, to name just a few things.

But things have also gotten better:  vaccines have been developed to protect us from covid, for the first time in years I didn't get a cold or flu because of wearing a mask, the economy started to turn around, we have a sane president, and best of all, my husband and I, in October, were presented with a beautiful grandson, full of life and promise and hope. Time to open the door and chase that dog away.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

8 Deer

Trying to clean up, my studio a mess of bits and pieces of paper, I almost always come across those scraps of paper that plead with me to use them, "Please Holly,  pleeeeeze, just try us out!".  And since who would rather clean up then listen to talking scraps of paper, I pause the cleaning and begin to move those pieces of paper around, dropping them onto the background paintings I've already prepared.  All those things I've been feeling and thinking about bubble to the surface: violence, vulnerability, innocence, misuse of power.  On the deer's sweatshirt is a small engraving of a man being beaten, and it seemed only right that this image should end up there as a tiny reflection on the state of the world.


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.