Monday, November 15, 2010


Late this summer I joined a marvelous online project whose goal is to allow people to send and receive postcards from all over the world.  Except for the cost of stamps and postcards it's all free and I've been enjoying the process tremendously.  In mid September I was diagnosed with a very scary medical challenge.  My mind churned up tortured thoughts and had me all wound up with "what ifs."  Postcrossing was a terrific distraction and one sweet card in particular hit me just right.  It came from a nursing student in Taiwan and she signed it with the words "Always be happy!"  It was just what I needed to hear.  I started looking at life through different eyes and I began signing my e-mails with her closing words.  Friends started offering additional "always be..." phrases and one of my favorites was "always be kind" because you never know what another person is going through.

By October I decided to share those words with even more people.  Since it was the "political season" the landscape everywhere was dotted with voting signs.  I realized I could make my own sign with a different outlook.  My husband found an outdated sign in our barn, cleaned it up and painted it white to create my "canvas."  I then took it to my studio where I covered both sides in abstract swirls of color and lettered messages.  When it was dry I proudly installed it by the edge of the road in front of our home.

Every time I saw my sign I would smile and feel good about my own version of "changing the political landscape" and a good friend of mine who is an artist decided to follow suit and create a sign for the top of her driveway.

I wish I could say that I am still smiling every time I see these signs, but unfortunately someone decided to remove the sign in front of my house.  I'd like to think that he or she really needed it in their lives and that they put it out in front of their own house.  But I'm pretty sure that is a fairy tale. 

Every day life changes.  Sometimes it is hard to be happy.  But for just a little while I think my messages may have added a spark to the thoughts of people passing by, and who knows where those ripples spread.

Always laugh out loud!

Friday, August 20, 2010

studio visit

This is an overview of my studio supplies.  I keep my paper palette on my sculpture stand, and my tubes, pigment sticks, oil bars, cold wax medium, OMS, pastels and powdered pigment are all right where I can reach them.  I do have other paints and supplies tucked away for other forms of creativity.  I actually took over the dining room table this week so I could experiment with some paper and inks.

I've tried to separate my colors by transparent and opaque, but that is pretty much a lost cause.  If my space were pristine, or even organized, I think I'd have a harder time working.

Even the board behind my workbench surface is covered with quotes, photos, postcards, letters and other ephermera that lend their spirit to my space and my work.

I work on many paintings at the same time.  These are in various stages of completion.  Even when I think I am done with one, I have to wait a day or more before I can confirm that it is finished.  When I walk into my studio and my heart leaps with joy, I know this is the way it needs to stay.

p.s. I can't seem to master the new editor on blogspot.  Bear with me as I figure out how to make it look better.

Friday, July 23, 2010

why angels?

When a new friend asked me in an email to talk about why angels often appear in my work, I replied that I really didn't have an agenda for using the angel image because I prefer that people bring their own meaning into the visual dialogue. I recognize that a winged figure is very much an iconic shape, though, and one that carries a spiritual connotation. I probably first truly noticed angels as a child. But aside from an admiration for their ability to fly and a nebulous belief in their protective characteristic (as in guardian angels) I didn't think about them much until my first visit to Italy in 1996. I had just graduated from a local college with a degree in visual art and, of course, had viewed many photos of Annunciation paintings in Art History class. But when I arrived in Florence and visited the Uffizi, Santo Spirito, San Marco and many other sites of paintings and sculptures of angels, something inside me turned toward the concept that an angel is truly a messenger of God.

In the years since then I've photographed dozens of stone angels and used transfers of these photos in my paintings. I began drawing angels as a means of abstracting the shape so that it became more personal. As my process for painting has become more intuitive, angels have often appeared in my gestural surfaces, and when I spy one I entice it forward.

If I had to affirm my particular meaning for angels, my immediate response is that they remind me, messenger-like, to pay attention to the precious moments in my life that often go unnoticed. I can trudge through days oblivious to simple pleasures and small kindnesses. But then, out of the corner of my eye or heart, I catch a glimpse or feeling of something beyond rational comprehension. For a fleeting moment an unexpected angel touches down.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

seduced by a sink

A dream I had a couple of nights ago has stuck with me. I was wandering through a rather large old house that was for sale and wondering if I could live there. The rooms had high ceilings but the walls looked as though they were made of metal. The whole place felt awkward and off putting to me and I sensed I could never live there. Until I reached the kitchen. The walls there were just as ugly and the lay out of the room was clumsy, but then I spied the kitchen sink and fell in love. It was an old commercial kitchen sink, with two parts. One part was very deep and would be wonderful for filling huge pots with water. The other side was less deep but as wide as a kitchen table. I pictured myself at that sink, washing vegetables, readying magnificent meals for appreciative guests at my dinner table. Daydreaming in a dream? My reverie broke and I looked at my surroundings again and realized that the sink was the only redeeming quality of the entire house. Better to not buy the house, but to find a better one and buy a similar sink.

In my studio I often get seduced by "sinks." I'll be working away on a painting and not really getting where I want to go, when suddenly I spy a wonderful passage of paint that I fall in love with. I start daydreaming about how great it is and how everyone is going to recognize my talent which is deep and wide. I work around and around that beautiful "sink" until I have to admit I just can't buy the whole package just for that one fixture. I need to look some more for a better solution, giving up that seductive part of the painting.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

facing anxiety

This morning in my email from "Daily Good" I received word of a young man from NYC who gave up his job as a civil engineer to walk across the country. In reading his story which is ongoing right now, I was impressed with his ability to face his fears and act on his dream. You can follow him at

I am an introspective person who is always finding messages in the small universe I inhabit, so I took his story to heart. No, I don't dream about walking across the country, although I most certainly agree with his stance of paying attention to small details instead of letting life whiz by. I was most affected by his admission that he was acting on his desires despite his anxiety. This is a good reminder to me, not only in my daily life, but as an encompassing mood for my studio.

I finished a painting last week that seemed to come from an intuitive leap of faith, and I have been savoring the result, while wondering if I can get back into my studio with anything approaching that freedom. It has been several days since I have squeezed out any paint on my palette and I have to acknowledge that I am anxious about starting anew. I have two beginning paintings that have been in the same state of incompletion since I diverted to the last one.

How can I possibly NOT proceed now that I have read about Matt's adventure? If he can set out to walk from one side of our country to the other, without any preconceived notions of what the possibilities are, then surely I can take a deep breath and walk into my studio, anticipating the journey ahead.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


"The Lightness of Being", 30 x 40" oil on canvas

This morning I drove to Pickens, South Carolina with two of my paintings for submission to the Pickens County Museum of Art and History's 31st annual juried exhibition. As always, my hopes are high to be included in the selection of the juror. I am doing my part in following the advice of an art marketing workshop I attended to "Get your work out there!" This is the fifth juried exhibition I've entered since January and it will be the tie-breaker. I was rejected from two exhibitions and accepted into two exhibitions.

Entering these competitions for recognition and exposure entails a great deal of work and expense. In some cases, the actual paintings are delivered to the exhibiting facility so that the juror can see them in person, rather than in a digital file. In other cases, the exhibition committee prefers digital submissions that have to be formatted in a very specific way. Whether I am sitting at my computer or driving 90 miles, like I did this morning, the business of getting my work "out there" is quite time consuming. If one or both of my paintings are rejected in Pickens, I will be driving another 90 mile morning next week.

Finding a balance between creating my work and "getting it out there" is an ongoing dilemma. I want to be in my studio, not filling my day with the tasks of entering shows. Yet I understand that the more people who can see my work, the more opportunities I have to sell it. And getting into juried exhibitions adds to my "saleability." Wish me luck!

Monday, March 8, 2010

cross pollination

My mother loved african violets. At one time, years ago, she had a collection of over 100 different plants. Not long before she passed away, I brought two of them home. One was a large "double white", and the other was a "single deep pink." Over the years I've propagated these violets from broken leaves and have separated countless plants into new pots to give to friends and family. Currently, on a shelf over my kitchen sink, I have some beauties. One of them is kind of magical to me. I'm no biologist, and can't explain how it happens, but somehow I've grown a "double shell pink." It is obvious to me that by some alchemy the deep pink and the white have come together in a masterful new creation.

This cross pollination can also occur in art. An artist never lives in a vacuum, and if you are like me, you look at art everywhere: museums, galleries, on the web, in friend's studios, and in a different way, in nature and architecture. Ideas and images recirculate, inseminate and birth new creations continually. My work may not be directly influenced by one other artist, or one school of thought, but when I am drawn to a person's work, or a particular viewpoint, my explorations can impact how I think when I am composing a new painting.

Recently, I was delighted to come across access to podcasts of Artist Talks available for free on the internet from the Art Institute of Chicago.

I immediately gravitated to the talk given by Rhonda Wheatley on Cy Twombly, an artist whose work has always intrigued me. As I listened to Wheatley, I found her web site ( which illustrated for me the compelling connections between her work and that of Twombly.

Artists may share the same stimuli and explore identical themes, yet processing the information through the filter of their own experience, they produce unique work. Like my double shell pink african violet, the influences of border plants have had an effect, but the outcome is an uncommonly lovely flower.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


My friend Linda and I attended an art marketing workshop in Charlotte, North Carolina not too long ago. For over 4 hours we listened to a gallery owner from Scottsdale, Arizona speak to his class of 50 eager artists. Jason Horejs introduced himself as the son of a full time artist, and as someone who had always loved the gallery side of "the business." After working in galleries for several years, he opened his own, Xanadu Gallery, in Scottsdale. He discovered, to his dismay, that most artists had no concept of how to approach a gallery. His desire to help artists achieve their goals led him to write a book called "Starving" to Successful The Fine Artist's Guide to Getting Into Galleries and Selling More Art.

His seminar was his book brought to life, and my friend and I carried home new energy for approaching our goals in the art world. One of the many suggestions we were given that day has had quite an impact on me. He proposed that every professional artist needs a biography, written in third person, describing how s/he has come to make art. Much more than a resume, a biography can speak to a collector on a personal level, creating an understanding of the artist as a person.

Writing a third person biography was a challenge for me. All my self doubts rose their ugly heads, mocking me with their mumbling insinuations about my small education, and a long list of "I'm not good enough" thoughts. But I was so encouraged and inspired by the Horejs seminar, I stifled them all and began writing about my life as an artist. Although it took me over a week of continual revision, I found strength in my own story and my new capacity to explain what and why I paint.

I have posted my biography on my web site and of course hope that potential buyers will read it. I have given my galleries a new tool for selling my work. But perhaps the most valuable facet comes from having written it. I now have a stronger understanding of my progression as an artist, and how events as well as my own dedication have strengthened my desire to communicate with my art.

Friday, January 1, 2010

falling in love

I began reading two new books today. One is an audio book, the other is traditional. Between the library and my own bookshelves, I have more than enough reading material for several lifetimes.

Yesterday I began five new paintings. Actually, what I did was to paint oil gesso over older work that no longer satisfied me. I guess you wouldn't actually call that painting, but it really is a new beginning. The first step into new work, just like the first page in a new book.

It dawned on me today that I always like to have some "space" for savoring the books and the paintings that I've just finished. There is something satisfying about remembering a story well told, the depth of the characters and how they lived with me for a time. I also take a great deal of pleasure in walking by my newest paintings, even as I think about sizes and subjects for my upcoming explorations. My most recent work is always my favorite for a time, and can stymie new beginnings if I let it. Oh, the doubts that creep surreptitiously into my good did I ever make such a wonderful painting? How can I ever be successful again?

But I have to paint! So I take the plunge and before long I'm deeply involved in the problem solving and intuitive gestures that layer by layer create my next new favorite! It is the same with books. I find myself wandering through the shelves of choices, still thinking about the ones I've just finished, knowing it will be difficult to find one to compare. To compensate for my struggle, I choose more than one and begin them all. It takes the pressure off. That's why I like to give myself more than one canvas at a time. I can "play" a little more freely with what I like and don't like, and see where the journey takes me. Reading and painting, I fall in love again and again. What could be better?