Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Oil on canvas, 40 x 30"

Ever since I took the Bonney Goldstein workshop this summer, "Working the Surface," at Castle Hill in Truro, I have been overflowing with experimental notions and play. It has really helped my art. Getting rid of that critical voice...well, let's be honest...it's more like I'm talking BACK to that critical voice, has freed my inner audacity. Feeling the heat of my ardor and imagination, I have given myself over to the process like never before.

During a recent studio visit from a friend, I was rewarded by her appreciation for my enthusiasm as well as my results. Oh, how I eat up those kind words. Knowing that my passionate resolve was recognized, nourishes my determination to continue my explorations.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Art Group

Almost two years ago, a few of my artist friends and I began meeting on a monthly basis to share information about marketing opportunites, materials resources, and personal experience in the "art world." Our group has remained small by choice, so that our conversations can be productive and supportive within the confines of 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Having the encouragement and assistance of like minded friends has been a benefit to me in both tangible and intangible ways.

I also feel pretty fortunate to be part of an ENORMOUS art group...the internet. I've connected with artists that I've never met, but admire, and have learned a lot from information shared in blogs, on social media, and on web sites. I now consider my time on the computer to be part of my continuing education. The only difficulty is confining the time spent to an hour or two at the most.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I have been struggling lately, with some little things that I let become big things. My intention this morning was to write about a specific topic that has been bothering me. But when I signed into my blog, I saw I had a comment from someone, and I have never learned how to follow through to read the full comment. I've spent some time just now rereading the instructions in the hope that the next time I have a comment posted, I'll remember what to do!

Last night I had a great conversation with an old friend in Massachusetts, and she told me that she had tried to post a comment on my blog, but it wouldn't let her for some reason. I'm not sure why this happened, and fortunately she told me what she had wanted to write.

So, instead of writing about my intended topic, I am diverted by my endeavor to learn how to operate my blog. This type of distraction tends to remind me what a messy desk my mind is. I'm sifting through all the stacks of paper I've piled up with reminders and lists, trying to find that one certain object(ive), and before I know it, I can't remember what I was looking for in the first place.

Maybe my problem began, with the title of this post... making that adage "what you think about, expands," more true than ever.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I can hardly believe it has been three weeks since I have written anything on this blog. I'm questioning whether or not it is important for me to continue. When I began writing it in July, my enthusiasm carried me from day to day and I felt power in voicing my observations and musings, while challenging myself to be creative and precise in my use of language.

Lately, I've been asking myself why should I write at all. My answers are pretty simple, really. I like to share my thoughts, and I love to make words flow together like colors in one of my paintings. I could write all day about what I am thinking if I were just "journaling," instead of thinking about grammar, structure and sound. Like facing a new blank canvas, an empty page challenges me to "get it right" and communicate something new that only I can say.

"Once begun, half done," pops into my head. I don't know who said it, but they were wrong in my book. Starting a project, like writing a blog entry or making a painting may be intimidating to me, but once I've jumped in, the real work begins. Editing my words for creativity and flow, is much like the painting process. I can lay on paint with audacity, reveling in the way the colors compliment each other or create a dialogue. I can add images with form or line, then veil or remove them entirely, according to how it all works together. It's a continual questioning, stepping back from a canvas, or reading my words out loud to get the most juice from the composition. A painting can take a week or a month before I feel the glow inside that says "YES!"

Writing this blog is a time commitment, but for an hour or more, not days or weeks. Is it worth it? I don't really know. But I'm glad to be writing this morning, as the stars faded and dawn opened up my day. Now I want to go into my studio and continue working on my latest efforts, while my sense of accomplishment sharpens my mind with pleasure.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Yesterday on my way to Tryon I was following a pick up truck piled high with "stuff" in the bed. I saw an interesting chair perched on top, leaning to the right, sort of bouncing along. It seemed to be an old metal chair, painted blue, with rust spots, and it conjured up a whole story in my head. Chairs do that to me. I wondered whether the owner of the pick up truck had found it by the side of the road, awaiting the trash collector, and recognizing the life still left in the old dear, had stopped and rescued it from its fateful trip to the landfill.

I imagined how the chair was feeling pretty jaunty now, being saved from an ignoble end, and happy to be on its way to a new adventure. Perhaps it would be placed under a tree, ready for its new owner to bring a book to get lost in, or binoculars to view the nearby field for birds. Or maybe it would get sanded and repainted and be proudly placed on a front porch to watch the world go by.

As I followed that truck, watching the chair jiggle with excitement about its new life, I wondered what else was in the truck. I realized with a start, that there was a wheel behind the chair. A rubber wheel. And then it dawned on me that my lovely blue chair was actually an upside-down wheel barrow! The handles were "the arms" and the flat supporting piece between the legs was what I had seen as the back of the chair.

This ambiguity and my subsequent inner narrative reminded me quite poignantly that "truth" is a viewpoint, often miscontrued because of our penchant to see things through the lens of what we already believe. Strangely enough, my little interlude of fantasy, conjured for the non-existent chair, didn't distress me, now that I knew I had been wrong. It just made me smile and remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The wheel barrow's rusty blue paint was still attractive to me, although I laughed thinking that it was never going to be parked under a tree, cradling the bottom of some lucky reader.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

authentic voice

I am struggling in my studio to find my personality. I feel like an awkward teenager, wanting to be an adult, but not quite willing to give up the pleasures and ease of childhood. I have put myself in the position of growing as an artist and I'm suffering the pains that go along with new developments.

Yet, like a teenager, I'm always hungry for sustenance, and feed my creative spirit by studying numerous art books, noting what I respond to and learning new ways to expand my vocabulary. Recently I went on a "feeding frenzy" by attending a week long art workshop on Cape Cod. This nourished my desire to paint with all the new tools I learned, but now I'm trying to make MY work, not an impersonation of what I have been admiring in someone else's vision.

I have to find the balance between learning something new and being genuine. Growth means change, and change makes me uncomfortable. I miss the facility I used to feel when I made my paintings, a certain sureness of hand, even while I sought new discoveries. But now my work requires that I go beyond my comfort zone, while still recognizing my true nature and my authentic voice.

Friday, August 21, 2009


A few days ago I spent the morning with my daughter Bethan doing errands. She's a medical transcriptionist and makes a daily visit to Spartanburg Regional Hospital to deliver her work and pick up more. I stayed in the car while she took care of business, and she had parked directly across from a fenced in demolition site. I was fascinated to observe the slow waltz of the two pieces of heavy equipment as they synchronized their swinging jaws. I was mesmerized by the finesse of the operators and their ability to grasp a single piece of wood or metal with the huge appendage on their machine. After gripping and dropping a whole mouthful of waste, the other could go back into a large pile and select one little crushed window screen.

But as usual with me, I began to think about the underlying story. I wondered what that half demolished building had once been. I imagined the excitement of the owner who had built those brick walls and filled the rooms with personal taste.

As I watched the metal fingers of the machine take away a door and then a wall board, I thought about the house being like a person. Born, then growing into an adult and aging. All the strata of psyche and soul that create the rooms of ourselves we carry through life. A sudden wave of empathy hit me as the insides of this former home were exposed, layer after layer. But it seemed to me as though the operators of those dismantling machines had a respect for the process they were a part of. That gave me comfort.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


In Michael A. Singer's "the untethered soul, the journey beyond yourself," that I've just begun to read, he talks about the voice in your head that continually comments on what is happening. He calls this voice your "inner roommate." I really noticed it this morning while I was sitting down to eat my breakfast. I don't like having the same breakfast every day, so today I fixed an egg that I slipped inside a little toasted pita bread. I was thinking how much I like variety in my life, when this roommate roared with laughter. "Oh sister, who do you think you're fooling? Variety? You LOVE routine!"

I started going down a mental list of what my days are like. Well, yeah, I get up and walk just about every morning. Well, sure, I eat breakfast and get ready for my day in the studio or at my job. And yeah, okay, I have to check my email and look at Facebook to see what's new. But I really DO like variety in other ways.

"HAH!" my roommate challenged me. "Tell me ONE thing you like to change around, other than breakfast!" Well, ummm...I'm peering around the room to see if I can find any clues to prompt me. Well, I've begun to meditate every morning. "That just means you added something to your ROUTINE, dummy." Oh. heh heh. Ummm...my mind roams around my recent days, sure that I can find another example of how variety is the spice of my life. Damn! My roommate is getting cocky now, and I'm desperate to find a rebuttal.

Then I realized that the reason I'm reading Singer's book is to kick that roommate out. I'm tired of living with her and she's fighting to prove her superiority so I'll back down! HAH! I'm breaking routine. I'm kicking her out of here NOW!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

s l o w

This morning's walk was more like a swim in a mud puddle. The air was so hot and humid, that my legs seemed to warp into slow motion. I felt as though I was still in bed, dreaming that I was walking. Even a car coming out of the darkness towards us, seemed to be gasping for breath and struggling to make headway. As it lumbered by us, I had the illusion of being on a treadmill, going no where. Eventually, we decided to cut our route short and return to cooler, air conditioned existence. The walk was a struggle, but I was content to have prodded myself into exercising, no matter how abbreviated.

That is what my studio time was like yesterday. No matter how much effort I made to resolve one of my paintings in progress, I was mired in the mud of exertion. I plodded away, trying to advance my work, but I was stuck in a wearisome round of attempts and failure. I finally gave in to my lethargy and began to clean my tools. When looking back at what I had accomplished, I realized it wasn't so bad after all. I had not reached a revelation, or any kind of final resolution, but I had made progress. Some days are like that. Slow is better than no go.

Monday, August 10, 2009


There are just too many bugs in my world. Earlier this year we had round after round of fire ants, but when the drought hit in July, they seemed to disappear. Now, after just a few good rainstorms, they are back in full force. They've invaded my blueberry plants and one bush is struggling to survive. I hope I can save it.

Another scourge we've been dealing with daily is an infestation of grain moths. No matter how hard I've looked, I can't find the source for these invasive pests. We see them flying in almost every room, too, not just in the kitchen. I have checked every possible cause, short of opening up brand new boxes of pasta and crackers, and have come up empty.

The worst one, though, that raises the hair on the back of my neck, is in my garden across the street. After some online research, I discovered the name of it. Leaffooted bug. UGH. They are large and long and are covering certain tomato plants, hanging all over each other like some sort of obscene bug orgy. They are stealthy, slow moving, ugly things, and I have to gird myself to knock them off the fruit before I reach in for a handful of baby romas.

One day last week I was washing a whole basket full of tomatoes when I realized that one of these creatures had traveled home with me. I screeched and reached for my kitchen scrubbie to grab it and squish it. I couldn't do it, so I raced to the back door, squealing in fear as I struggled to make the latch give, and threw the scrubbie out the door with the bug clinging to it. I was covered with goosebumps and ashamed of myself for my overly squeamish behavior. A minute or so later, after I checked the rest of the kitchen counter and sink for more interlopers, I went back out and stomped the bug into the ground. Maybe that wasn't a nice thing for me to do, but it gave me back a feeling of control. I had to take back my world.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

the train

There's just something about a train. The rhythmic clack of the wheels, the blare of the horn announcing its arrival and the gasp of the brakes as it comes to rest, all make me run to the window to witness the occasional freight train that loads at the nearby chip yard. Growing up in a neighborhood where every house looked the same, (and so did all the faces,) I'm delighted to now live in the South, across from railroad tracks that used to carry people, not just boxes filled to the brim with ground up trees.

One recent evening I was amazed to see an engine pulling two passenger cars. The horn gave a very different sound as it passed our home and headed for the street that crosses the tracks. I raced out the front door with a big grin on my face, then quickly came back for my camera. I knew the train would have to come back our way because the tracks are cut not far beyond that intersection. While I waited on the front porch, my neighbor Darlene came out on hers and she told me that distinctive horn signaled a passenger train, just like it used to every week when people would come up from Spartanburg.

After several minutes passed and the train didn't return, Danny and I walked up the street to find it. By then it was getting dark, but I took some photos just the same. Except for in the engine room, there were no lights, and no silhouettes of passengers. The name on the cars said "Norfolk Southern," which gave me a little thrill since I was born in Norfolk, Massachusetts and now I am "southern," at least by location!

The second car had "Research 36" printed under the row of windows. That made me hope that an investigation was underway to bring back train service to Landrum. There's just something about a train. The sound of the past whispering in my ear? Or could it be the future? I would like to think so.

Friday, July 31, 2009

too many choices

I've been researching cameras in preparation for selecting a new one. The more I read the more confused I become. At Danny's suggestion I posted a question on Facebook asking advice from my friends about two brands I am considering. I received varied opinions, some off the cuff and others with solid facts. The trouble is, I can't find the exact cameras I'm looking for locally. Shopping has changed. We no longer have one or two camera stores that carry the small selection that used to be available. Now we have mega choices and mega stores that can't even stock every brand, let alone all the models.

This plethora of choices extends to almost every area of our lives in the 21st century. We don't go to the butcher and ask for the whole chicken to be cut up into pieces. We go to the supermarket and buy just thighs or wings or breasts. We can buy organic chicken or chicken "enhanced" with 12% solution of something or other, or factory pressed, ground or preseasoned slices. And that is just the chicken.

The decisions that we have to make every day may not seem earth shattering, but we have become so attuned to making the BEST choices for our health, happiness and pocketbook that it would be easy to go stark raving mad just trying to come to the correct conclusion.

The challenge would be, how do we decide which pill to take for the problem?

Thursday, July 30, 2009


In the early years of my existence I believed that "life happens." I was like a leaf, wafting from a tree, blown into a small stream, then caught on the rocks. After a heavy rain, I would be dislodged from my position and be pushed to another place, drifting along with the current until I came to another stopping point. I was moved only by the outside force of fate.

Gradually, I began to wake up to the idea of choices. I still followed convention, being buffeted by my desire to please others, but eventually I opened a door in my mind that offered a new view of life. There was no brass plate anouncing what I would find, but once through, I understood there was no turning back. I found art and fell in love with life.

Through education, experimentation and travel, I have found tools to help me navigate my path, but I realize that the experiences I had as a mere leaf in a stream helped create and strengthen my desire for change. Was that fate too?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Over the course of the last twenty years of painting, I have learned to let color and form help me explore my inner thoughts. And since traveling to Italy for the first time in 1996, I have followed an Italian muse, at times with expressionistic renderings of real places, as I return time and again to the country I love. But more and more I have progressed towards the evocative framework of abstract art, searching for a means to convey my appreciation for life.

My recent journey to the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill has helped me to see painting in a different way. "Working The Surface," taught by Bonney Goldstein, a painter I have admired for some time, was a revelation. Five days of experimental play with new techniques and new materials stunned my senses and sent me home changed to my core. Now when I go to my studio I hear her voice in my head, "don't overthink." My self applied pressure is abating and I am remembering the joy I felt in class, coming to terms with the idea of having no ideas. It is all about the paint. The way the colors juxtapose, the way the line and value and composition happen and happen again as I layer and add and subtract with my instincts, not with my mind.

Maybe it's my age, or maybe I was just ready for a change, but I've been such an introspective painter for so long, it may just be time to go for the meaningless and see what happens!

Monday, July 20, 2009

sore loser

I never would have guessed that I'm a sore loser, but that side of me is raising its ugly head. I was recently rejected from a juried art exhibition, but that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about my garden.

Back in March I carefully planted my Italian vegetable and herb seeds into peat pots filled with seed starter. I checked them for moisture every day, carefully watching for tiny green shoots breaking the surface of the soil. When the babies erupted I placed the pots in my sunny dining room windows, turning them cautiously every day to allow for strong, straight growth. Eventually the plants grew second leaves and I had to force myself to trim out all but the strongest growth in each little pot...so hard for me, but a good lesson I can apply in my painting studio. Keep only what is best for the plant or painting and eliminate the weak parts.

Soon my little nurslings grew into transplants. They went into big ceramic vessels, my reconstituted straw bale garden from last year, and the "in-the-ground" garden across the street in our neighbor's back lot. For a while, everything flourished, including the bean and squash seeds planted directly in the ground. Rain was plentiful, the sun shined and all was right in my world.

The sun shone relentlessly. No rain. The clay soil baked and cracked and the stalwart plants stood their ground, but began to breathe shallowly. Despite carrying water across the street, it was never enough to stop the downward spiral for that garden. Stressed by the weather, my plants are losing their battle to survive and I am really mad. I hate to lose what I grew from seed, nurtured into strong plants and tended with such expectations. Mad at the sun!

But like my rejection from that art exhibition, the death of my garden will not end my continued hope for next year. I rant and rave against what I can't control, but it's time to move on. Back to the studio, and oh, I can't wait until my new seed catalogs come.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Having recently returned from a trip to Massachusetts where I attended a weeklong art workshop in Truro, I've been "processing" my entire experience. The teacher of the workshop, Bonney Goldstein, was enthusiastic about sharing a wealth of information on materials and techniques, and I know my own work will benefit from her instruction. She was, however, heedful about having us watch her work, not wanting us to attempt the recreation of her paintings. This caution was a gift that ensured we identified how we could incorporate her knowledge and directions into our own vernacular language.

On this same journey, I had the opportunity to visit relatives, some of whom I had not seen in years... aunts and an uncle in their 90's, cousins who are my age, and my only sister. Seeing family brings back many memories, and being a reflective person, I began thinking about growing from the child I was into the "mature" woman I am today. My nature, nurtured by a family with specific traits, helped make me who I am. Yet, like my recent class experience, I understand that I've taken the materials and techniques of being a part of the extended Munro/Vaughn family and made my life my own. I can't be anyone else but Carol Beth Munro Icard, colored and shaped by experience, using my own voice, my art.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Driving to the bank yesterday, I had "Performance Today" on the radio. I was so captivated by a tune that had violins, that instead of proceeding to the drive-through, I parked my car and listened to the end, making notes about the title of the piece and who was playing it. Later in the day I tried to find it on the internet, but for some reason the "listen" link on the radio station's web site didn't work for me. I did find, however, other performances of the same composition on "you-tube," Waltz No. 2 from Jazz Suite No. 2 by Dmitri Shostakovich. There was something in that music that made me think about motion. I visualized a young woman riding a bicycle, gliding down a hill and around a curve, her head thrown back in sheer enjoyment of the breeze in her face and the scenery flying by.

Suddenly, I too had to move. It wasn't the kind of music I would dance to, and there was no way for me to hop on a bicycle, so I pushed my chair back from the computer, threw my head back to see the spinning ceiling fan, and propelled myself in circles in the desk chair. The music and the motion combined made my spirits soar as I enjoyed the most delightful fun I've experienced in a long while. I let go of my 60 years of propriety and played.

Monday, June 22, 2009


This morning, setting out in the dark to walk, I was startled for a brief moment by what I thought was a flattened snake in the road. I was mistaken. It was a crushed soda can. Hmmm...
I have no idea why my mind leapt to the scary conclusion of "snake," since I've never found soda cans threatening.

After breakfast I went out to water my potted tomatoes, and was dismayed to find one of my best ones damaged at the base. A large section of it was breaking away from the main stem. I immediately blamed our local squirrel population, ranting to myself about how they treat my container garden like a playground. But since I didn't actually witness what mischief broke the tomato plant, I had to stop my train of thought and just accept the fact that it is damaged.

It's funny how I can get all worked up over something that either is or could be a misperception. My fear, anger or even sadness can take me away on a swift ride down a river of negativity. My goal is to recognize when that happens so I can change my mind chatter into more peaceful thoughts.

What I don't understand is why I never seem to catch myself thinking "positive thoughts" by mistake, or raving about how terrific my paintings are!

Friday, June 19, 2009


There's been a lot of rain in Massachusetts according to my friends and family. Too much rain, with garden devastation and leaky roofs. And in the Carolinas we have had a lot of rain this spring, including a few deluges with high wind. It's hard to complain since we've been in extreme drought for a few years, but it does get tiresome.

I'm interested in how we view the rain. It "dampens" our spirits and "puts a damper on" outside activities. Yet without the dark, rainy days, or even the passing storms, perhaps we wouldn't appreciate the sun. Trite but true. It's also easier to have a "sunnier" outlook when the weather pleases us. We can be living barometers, setting our mood to the seasons and showers.

I think we all just want some balance in life. We can suffer setbacks as long as we also make progress. We tolerate loss by gaining perspective on what is important to us. Weather is just an outward sign that can trigger conversation about how we feel. Today, in Landrum South Carolina, the sky was filled with stars and a waning crescent moon as I walked this morning. When the sun rose and paled the indigo sky to baby blue, I knew this would be a good start to my day. Yesterday's storm passed and I'm ready for some clear sailing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

motion and stillness

I began my day just after 5:00 a.m., arising to walk in the still cool darkness, when mostly it's just me, Danny and the sound of birds. I enjoy the rhythm of walking, the feeling of blood pulsing through my body, my deepened breathing, my cells tingling with oxygen.

Two miles later, and breakfast under my belt, I sit at the dining room table, my pen and notebook replacing my cereal bowl and mug of tea. Sitting quietly, I am mesmerized by the ceiling fan's reflection in the glass on a painting, the sporadic splash of tires on the rain-washed street, a damp, peachy smell of pre-airconditioned summer and the sensation of itching from an insect bite on the inside of my arm. When I am still, the details of being alive at this place, in this time, reward me with rich abundance.

In my studio I employ this same balance of motion and stillness. The act of painting is often as natural as walking. I find a rhythm and let my subconcious mind breath and pulse life into my creation. Then I sit still, observing my work in progress, the way my colors combine, forms and lines intersect, and what needs to be changed. When the work is complete, I am overcome with pleasure, an oxygenated fullness of being, grateful to be alive.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

life and death

Today is my oldest granddaughter's 14th birthday. Mackenzie is a beautiful, intelligent young woman on the exploratory path of life. She's a flower bud, petals unfolding, drawing strength from the soil of family and the sun of her faith. Rains come and go, nurturing her growth as she expands into her future.

I also learned today that a friend's Dad died, the second friend in a week who has recently witnessed her father depart this earth. Both women acknowledged that "it was time," and expressed acceptance of the inevitable, but their rite of passage brought memories of my own loss, now more than 14 years old.

Fourteen years ago I celebrated the birth of Bethan's first child, a momentous and thrilling event, just a few months after mourning Daddy's last breath. Like every soul, he sprouted from the beginning of time, grew towards the sun, endured unpredictable weather, and made his path a poetic journey.

We gather as family on these occasions, supporting each other and celebrating the existence of a singular being. If I were to paint a canvas representing my thoughts right now, it would have patterns like winding roads and branching trees, diverging and intersecting and sustaining each other. Overlaying all these lines would be circles, cycles of life and death and life again, every one unique.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Unavoidable Joy

This morning, in a "daily good" email newsletter I receive, I read a 2005 report written for Inside Bay Area by Jill Tucker, titled "Little by Little." It was an account of how an 11 year old student in El Cerrito, California decided to forego birthday presents by asking her friends' families to donate money that would help children in a small impoverished village in Tanzania to improve their lives. The article touched my heart, and a few of Tucker's words struck a lovely note that resounded in my mind. She wrote, "But alongside the poverty, there is unavoidable joy..."

I've been considering those two words with some amount of wonder, not only for their placement in the chronicle I read, but because they inspired me to contemplate where they might apply in my own life. I realized that I'm not really intimate with the word joy. I've thought of it as a word meant to convey only the most profound sense of gladness. But when I looked it up in my dictionary of synonyms, I was really surprised to read that it means delight, glee and pleasure, words that have less gravity in my mind. It appears that I have been laboring under the false impression that joy was only for the most heart-felt occasions!

Now I understand why pairing the word "unavoidable" with "joy" was not the challenging concept I imagined it to be. In fact I'm delighted and quite gleeful, actually, to realize that joy is very much a part of my daily existence, not only unavoidable, but inevitable. I am very fortunate.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I awoke this morning a little after 5 a.m. and thought I would drift back to sleep in the darkness, the cool night air seeping through the open window. But a persistant mockingbird had different plans for me. My first thought was to roll over and block out his voice by reaching for a nearby pillow to cover my ear. But the varied bursts of lilts and trills captivated my reluctantly waking brain until I realized that more sleep just wasn't a possibility. I suppose if my "alarm clock" was the sound of raucous blue jays or cackling crows I would have risen disgruntled. But this mockingbird reported dawn so sweetly, I took its siren song to heart and smiled as my feet found my slippers.

On reflection, I can learn from this morning's observation. The sound of a voice, its tone and character, can make a difference in how we react to it. I interpreted the mockingbird's notes to be full of joy and felt pleasure from the song. When I use my voice today, I want to convey the same sort of felicity and gladness I arose to.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I bought a gallon container of fresh strawberries a few days ago because I knew it was the end of the local season. We ate a lot of them out of hand, enjoying their sweet juiciness, like red sunshine. Today I took the remaining berries out of the refrigerator and realized they were fading. I cut them up to sugar for shortcake and had to make a decision about several that were on the mushy side. Oh, how my frugal self hates to throw away a berry! But I knew that if I put the "iffy" ones in along with the still firm ones, the whole bowl would suffer from that choice.

It is the same with my painting. I really have a hard time "throwing out" a portion of a painting that has some attractive qualities. I often argue with myself for leaving it in. But I have learned to recognize when my eye keeps going back to that same place and isn't comfortable with what I'm seeing, it is best to eliminate it. Those decisions can improve the "flavor" of the whole painting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

yellow and black buggy

Yesterday, while driving to the bank, a very bright, half orangy-yellow, half black car/truck passed me going the other way. I immediately thought, "wow, is that an ugly combination." But then I had a conversation with my inner judge, who often gets full rein of my brain for long stretches, without any protest from the real me.

So I said to her, "who appointed YOU taste-master? I'm sure the automotive industry wouldn't be producing a vehicle that nobody would like, so obviously there are lots of people who find that combination of car and truck, black and yellow, appealing enough to pay a lot of money for it." This thought led me to ponder just how many of those car/trucks in that color combination had been produced, and whether a lot of them are languishing on car lots or if the demand exceeded the production.

From there I drifted into a comparison of the automotive industry and the art world. Having worked in galleries for over 15 years, I've listened to lots of opinions from art buyers. I've witnessed how most people respond to the familiar subjects they can identify and feel comfortable with. But there are viewers who slow down and observe the more unusual pieces of art, the viewers that challenge themselves to think "why am I responding to this painting or sculpture?" I admire those "out of the box" thinkers, because my artwork doesn't have immediate subject recognition. My paintings abstract ideas and conveys metaphorical concepts, and I like knowing that there are some people who are drawn to them.

I see lots and lots of white and silver and black cars, and lots and lots of white and black and silver trucks. People are comfortable with familiar choices. But maybe the ones who want something that stands out in the crowd, are just like the gallery goers I admire who are willing to look at something "different." My quick vote against that odd vehicle and subsequent conversation with myself has pointed out that I can be guilty of boxed in thinking, just like anyone else. I may never want to own a yellow car, but I have a new appreciation for those people who do.

Monday, June 8, 2009


This morning I commented to a friend on facebook about how exciting it is for me to have a vegetable garden, see a plant grow from seed and eventually bear fruit. This is a really juicy metaphor! Just as the work of planting and tending a garden provides edible, useful results, my labors in my studio are followed by the consequence of my actions. Unlike a tomato seed which possesses everything a tomato knows, I am never really certain what my outcome will be. But I can emulate my garden in my act of creation.

First I need to find a "sunny location" by shedding light on what I want my art to convey. I have to "prepare the soil" by loosening it, digging around in my thoughts for inspiration. I need to "water and feed" my concept with quality materials, taking the time to learn the best ways to use them. And I have to be diligent getting rid of "weeds" that can choke the growth I am nurturing in paint. Just like a seed gradually emerges from the soil, grows toward illumination, and becomes all that it can be, my ideas flourish when I give them the space and the opportunity to exist.

Right now I'm working on a compost pile to amend my garden. Isn't THAT a fertile metaphor!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

privet begone!

I spent a long time with the loppers this morning, cutting down scrub sumac and baby oak trees. In trying to get under an unwieldy privet, I got poked in the eye. Sometimes it takes a poke to make a necessary change. I took the loppers to the privet, then called in the reinforcements! Danny and his chain saw! Now the yard looks so much better.

Sometimes I have to poke myself when I'm in my studio. Complacence leads to mediocrity. Taking chances leads to a fuller sense of engagement with my work, and hopefully a painting that looks a lot better, just like the yard.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I'm not sure if I have a switch in my brain which allows me to shift into mindfulness, but I feel as though I experience a great deal more pleasure from life when I am paying attention to where I am and what I am observing. The mind chatter recedes and I am aware of how fortunate I am to be alive, healthy, and near my dear family. I also consider myself to be extremely lucky to be an artist. My art allows me to express what I think about and what I love in color and texture, form and line...

Even though I have to go to my paying job today and won't be painting, I walked into my studio and felt a little jolt of pleasure, observing a portion of a current painting that I had just resolved to my satisfaction. Painting is my metaphor for paying attention.

Friday, June 5, 2009


It's been raining. Yesterday afternoon when he got home from work, Danny disconnected the end pipe into our rain barrel and held huge plastic jugs up to the gutter spout from our large barn. He collected over 35 gallons in just minutes. It was a thrill to watch. After the drought of the last few years that rain feels like money from heaven. Maybe that is why I was restless last night and didn't sleep well. I kept hearing all that money going down the drain!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


One of my favorite activities is to spend a few minutes looking out a window and observing my front yard. The huge water oak tree harbors all kinds of wild life, from gray squirrels and a variety of birds to the occasional black snake. I know about the snake because it was inadvertently trapped in some netting at the base of the tree which was protecting some "visiting" bonsai plants while their owner was on vacation. Sadly, the snake died. Although I'm really not fond of snakes, I appreciate their appetite for mice and possibly chipmunks, those vermin in cute clothing that dig up my plants.

Today is overcast. The very gentle drizzle has stopped for the moment, but I'm hoping it will return and water my gardens for me. The squirrels, little more than teenagers, are out in force, foraging for the tiny acorns my tree produces. I tried raking and removing them earlier this year, but their small size and sheer mulitude made that almost impossible. So, in addition to the mounds from ant hills, we have the opposite appearance of little holes, dug by industrious squirrels. For me, this observation leads to thoughts about my paintings. When I make marks, each one must have some effect on the other. A "mound" deserves a "hole," so to speak, so the surface makes me reflect on the what nature has to teach me. Time to go into my studio and paint!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day One!

This is the birth of my brand new blog. I'm excited about sharing my artwork and my thoughts.