Friday, April 21, 2017

A Fourth Something

All his life Scott's gift to me has been to open my eyes to see in ways they don't think to see on their own.

Happy birthday, Scott!

He Saw Art Where Other People Saw Nothing
3x4"; acrylic, ink, and collage on drawing paper, mounted on card stock

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Third Something

I am one of five sisters, the oldest.

Marj is one of the same five sisters, the youngest.

We are bookends, each holding a place in a sister lineup that spans twelve years.

Such a sweet time I've had painting up some colors and lines and scribbles and joy to make a card to celebrate my baby sister.

Happy birthday, Marj!

Maybe I Am Just a Kid, Only Older
3x4"; acrylic, ink, and collage on drawing paper, mounted on card stock

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Second Something

The second something from Monday's start, another birthday card:

Maybe Adulthood Is a Myth
3x4"; acrylic, ink, and collage on drawing paper, mounted on card stock

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Birthday Card

Birthday card from yesterday's start:

this is the sun's birthday
3x4"; acrylic, ink, and collage on drawing paper, mounted on card stock

Monday, April 17, 2017

Setting Up Just Now

Painting offers up entrée to snippets of freedom. Eckhart Tolle states, The only place where you can or need to be free is this moment. Not the rest of your life. Just now. I experience so many of those moments, so much of now, in my studio.

Today, a piece of 9x12" drawing paper, paints, a brush or two, collage papers, some pens, and an acrylic skin were the portal.

Eventually, I took that 9x12 to my paper trimmer. Now I have a start for a birthday card and eight other somethings.

Before letting the blade fall:

9x12" mixed media start

Friday, April 14, 2017

Unexpected Moments

One of the nice things
about marrying the right [person] …
is that you keep
falling in love
all over again
at the most unexpected moments.

—Gail Godwin, Evensong

Congratulations on your marriage, A&A—may you enjoy a lifetime of unexpected moments of falling in love all over again!

wedding card

Unexpected Moments
3x4"; acrylic, ink, pencil, and wax pastels on drawing paper, mounted on card stock

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Celebrating Life and Offering Condolences

I took one piece of yesterday's playboard and developed it, using acrylic paint, tissue paper collage, gesso, pencil, metal stylus, gel pen, stencil, house paint, krink ink, and oil pastels.


Today was [her] funeral. 
I can’t imagine life without her. 
I suppose I should be grateful 
that she lived as long as she did 
but I’m not 
because it wasn’t long enough.
I can’t stop crying.

Jules Hardy, Altered Land 

It Wasn't Long Enough
2.75x4"; paint, ink, pencil, oil pastels, and collage on paper,
mounted on white paper and card stock

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Nicholas Wilton encourages artists to make what he refers to as playboards and others might refer to as activating the canvas. The idea is to just put down paint with as little thought as possible as a loosening up exercise before moving into other phases of a painting.

History of the playboard I generated today:

piece of calendar poster
rough brush and gesso
crosshatching with princeton catalyst blade

grease pencil

golden high flow acrylic dripped onto wet surface
tube acrylics, bristle brush, foam brush

acrylic paint pens

gel pen
papermate sharpwriter pencil
oil pastels

masking fluid (far right)


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Change of Direction

Changed direction today. Grabbed a piece of manila stock that I'd gessoed months ago, sprayed some water on it, pulled out some fluid acrylics that I've barely ever used, and dropped some color onto my 'canvas.' With sunshine and mild temps beckoning, I took the show outdoors to my front steps, loaded up with three or four different kinds of pastels, some pencils, a couple of pens. Back indoors to drip some house paint and use a texture sheet.

Could have stopped way back at simpler, but evidently I didn't.

Even so, this was just a quick spontaneous exploration, and now I have a postcard to send to my dad.

You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours
4x5"; acrylic, ink, and pastels on manila stock

Monday, April 10, 2017

Layer 11/100

What an engaging experiment, to keep adding layer after layer. So many surprises as I go along. So much visual excitement. I just love the new pieces that keep emerging day after day.

Today, neutral Liquitex Parchment color mixed with a few drops of white and applied with a foam brush. A few seconds later, scribbling with a metal stylus, loving the unpredictability of where paint had dried and wasn't interested in moving, where it was still wet and would yield, and what got revealed. Throughout, the fun of getting up close and personal with details from all the layers preceding today's creative venturing. Layer 11.

layer 11/100

Friday, April 7, 2017

Layer 10/100


Every layer a surprise.

Every layer an internal journey.

Today, an excerpt I've already quoted more than once from Cynthia Voigt's A Solitary Blue surfaces yet again:

This had been the pattern of his days on the back creek, too: he would move the boat out until he felt more frightened than he had the courage to match; then he would anchor and wait.

I was completely smitten by layer 3, and could easily have stopped then, based on nothing more than the thrill of the distance I'd moved the boat. But I anchored, waited, moved again.

I get attached. I let go.

I anchor. I move out.

I'm cautious. I throw caution to the wind.

Today I use oil pastels, nylon screen and house paint, ink pen, different house paint, wood staining pad.

Layer 10.

layer 10/100

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Layer 9/100

Next time I meet someone new who asks what I do, I might just say I'm an explorer.

What do I look for?

Where do I explore?

The inquiry is inside.

I watched a video clip at Nicholas Wilton's blog recently, and those words jumped out. They are still reverberating. No matter how many paintings I look at online, how often I admire one artist's colors and another artist's linework, how often I take note of contrast or brush strokes, how often I study composition and quiet space and detail—and, believe me, I spend hours doing so!—when I paint, the inquiry is inside.

Today I added asemic writing and some line work with broad-tipped acrylic paint markers. That's the part I can give words to.

The internal inquiry? That was wordless.

Layer 9.

layer 9/100

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Layer 8/100

Gentle rain tapping on the skylight.

Gentle layers going onto my work in progress.

Repeatedly rotating my gessobord.

Collaging with scraps of tissue paper: light blue, darker blue, light yellow-green, and white-with-thin-lines.

Accentuating, veiling, overlapping, making subtly simpler here, introducing quiet complexity there.

Layer 8.

layer 8/100

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Layer 7/100

I've put multiple layers on paintings many times, and often more than the seven layers I have on my current work in progress.

The difference is that in this case I've elected to participate informally in a 100layersofpaint challenge that I learned about from an online artist friend.

I don't even know what the guidelines of the challenge are, nor who's sponsoring it. Right now I'm just adding some kind of layer each day.

Already, even with just these few layers, I've swung back and forth more than once between liking and not liking.

What I do consistently like, though, is the mindset I'm noticing. I feel more open to experimentation than usual, more exploratory.

Today's additions: stamped letters/numbers, acrylic skin, more red dots.

Layer 7.

layer 7/100

Do I love those stamped letters and numbers? Totally. Yes, yes, yes.

Collaging a few strips of a clear acrylic skin, with its embedded black fabric-ink lines, was also especially fun. Ahead of time I thought to myself, Why go to the trouble of collaging this film, why not just draw some black lines directly? Because, I discovered, the lines offer up something different from what I'd ever think to draw in context. Love 'em.

sample acrylic skin with fabric-ink scribbles

Monday, April 3, 2017

Layers 5/100 & 6/100

Feels like I'm creating the site of a future archaelogical dig.

Added tiny gold ink circles in some of the shapes created by my having painted negative space in layer 3. Added black ink lines in some of the other shapes. Added blue ink scribbles in the negative space. Added red and gold dots in the negative space. Layer 5.

layer 5/100

Rotated my gessobord again, inscribed the gold ink circles with black ink, mixed up some blue, white, and green acrylic, and repainted negative space to accentuate the quadrilateral shapes again. Scribbled the wet paint with a stylus to reveal some lower layer paint. Layer 6.

layer 6/100

Friday, March 31, 2017

100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

100 bottles of beer on the wall,
100 bottles of beer,
You take one down,
and pass it around …

Oh, wait! That's not the song I meant to sing.

Same tune, though.

100 layers of paint on the page,
100 layers of paint,
You slap one down,
and turn it around …

Took an applicator bottle of ink, made shapes and drips. Layer 4.

layer 4

Don't like the results at all.

Don't think it'll much matter if I like or don't like this layer of mark making—it's hard to imagine any trace of it will be visible 96 layers from now!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chain Reaction

A little chain reaction that started right around the first of the year:

• Simone tuned me in to Instagram so I began posting;

• Sheila pointed me in the direction of some tips on how to use Instagram at my computer vs. on my phone which suddenly gave me much easier ways to connect with other artists and have conversations;

• Betty painted a painting that was very compelling;

• I admired another Instagram painting and wished for the umpteenth time that I could/would layer and veil more freely when I paint; and

• out of the blue, Marielle encouraged me to participate in a 100layersofpaint challenge.

Nah, I thought. I've got way too much going on.

And I did have too much going on. Still do.

But just hours before I headed on my midMarch vacation, I impulsively grabbed an old painting done on gessobord. I felt tenderness for that early investigation of whatever it was that abstract painting might be.

But, well, buh-bye. Secrets of a Bayside Barn served a purpose then, but now it had a new purpose. It officially became Layer 1. I knew it would be easy to add new layers without hesitation.

layer 1/100

I grabbed a Posca paint pen and wrote 100 layers of paint all over it. Layer 2.

layer 2/100

About half an hour before we left for the airport, I just had to add another layer. Total fun. Then I washed brushes, scrambled to stuff last-minute items in my suitcase and backpack, hoped I wasn't leaving anything behind, and headed out the door.

layer 3/100

Awesome. Totally love it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Today I just let bubble up whatever wanted to bubble up.

Little happy pops of color and PaperMate Sharpwriter pencil scribbles, as it turned out.

In Wonder at All That Followed
1.5x5.5"; acrylic and pencil on black cardboard

I have referred to and have been using some of my recent pieces as bookmarks, but they hold their heads magnificently high as beautiful pieces of small framable art as well. One of my favorite pieces of art, purchased probably 20 years ago, is 1x3" and looks exquisite matted in its elegant 9x12" frame on a wall in my home; my tall-and-thins could easily follow suit.

Here's a second montage of pieces from my now-complete tall-and-thin series.

willowy siblings

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

I'm noticing the bittersweet feeling of recent goodbyes—I'm feeling the tug and resistance of the parting, the richness and joy of the coming together, the laughter and depth of the space in between. I am inviting myself to be here and now no matter where, to say hello, and hello, and hello.

Right here and just now: playing with some hand-painted collage and Posca pens.

You Know How Goodbyes Feel
1.5x5.5"; acrylic and collage on black cardboard

Monday, March 27, 2017

Circulation Desk

I've gone to the circulation desk at my library more than once trying to find a book about which I have just the merest wisps of information. I'm trying to find a book on CD whose title I can't remember. My sister recommended it to me. It's about a house, or construction. Or an architect. But I think maybe it's told in first person by the house itself?

Happily, the librarians get into problem-solving mode with me and we have a grand time following the few crumbs I've offered up as clues.

And we almost always find what I'm looking for.

Wonder what'd transpire if I went to the circulation desk and made the following query: Do you know of a book whose cover might go well with this bookmark? … preferably fiction, preferably with a plot I'll like?

The Lake Wrinkles Under a New Breeze
1.5x5.5"; acrylic and ink on black cardboard

Friday, March 24, 2017

Because Of

Because of my wanting to make a bookmark to match the cover of a book I planned to read,

I scrounged around my studio for some sturdy paper,

found the black cardboard back I'd saved from a spiral binder, and

painted some background colors.

Because of the size of the black cardboard, I cut ten 1.5x5.5" pieces.

Because of cutting ten pieces, I now find myself creating a series.

Bookmark #7 joins the crew today:

Eddying Around in the Vacuum
1.5x5.5"; acrylic and ink on black cardboard

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Instead Of

I've been wanting to play with white ink on one of the starts from my cut up trickster-art for awhile now. Inspired by the work of Eva Magill Oliver, and instead of doing laundry and unpacking my suitcase …

A Small World Delivered into a Larger One
1.5x5.5"; acrylic, ink, and oil pastels on black cardboard

Thanks, Eva!

Here's a montage of several of my bookmarks to date:

bookmark siblings

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don't Text—Touch

In the article I've been referencing recently, the final research finding presented by Kolb addresses the benefits of touch in elevating mood. Neuroscientists recommend hugs as follows:

A hug, especially a long one, releases the neurotransmitter/hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.

The message is very clear: Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don't text—touch.

Painting is a mostly solitary pursuit for me, given that I put my brush into gear at my home. But sharing my paintings does offer me a lovely way to touch others. 

In fact, I would like to send this featured bookmark as a hug through the mail … to someone I don't even know (yet). If you'd like to bring a little surprise and fun into the life of someone you love, speak up in the comments section below. If you're the first person to express interest, I will indicate what step to take so I can get the wheels in motion to mail the bookmark to whomever you choose.

The Sea Has Always Whispered to Me
1.5x5.5"; acrylic, oil pastel, and collage on black cardboard

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Here's What I Decided

The research I've been reading about the upward spiral of happiness fascinates me.

Here's another finding: Making decisions contributes in several ways to uplifted mood.

I know, I know, sometimes it can be so hard to make a decision.

Good news: brain studies back up the fact that making a "good enough" decision is good for us, better in fact than agonizing over making the absolute 100% best decision.

When I discovered today that I didn't have any bookmarks to go with the cover of a book I just borrowed from the library, I decided to make one.

It was a good enough decision and it's a good enough bookmark.

Here's hoping it's a good enough book!


Good Enough Decision
1.5x5.5"; acrylic and pencil on black cardboard
not for sale [until I finish the book]

Monday, March 20, 2017

Name That Feeling!

Further insight from UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Kolb: it is beneficial to label our negative feelings. Suppressing only sends us downward. Naming—in just a word or two—gets us spiraling back up.

A fundamental tool of mindfulness, labeling activates the prefrontal cortex and reduces arousal in the limbic system.

Got it.

When I landed here, I felt:


I'd let an outer voice get noisy enough to keep me from hearing my own inner voice, to no particularly good effect outwardly and certainly no good effect inwardly.

'Nuff said about that.

As soon as I named my feelings, though, I felt a shift and a lift.

I got my paints out again. Now this piece—a visual haiku—feels artistically and emotionally authentic.

And, in turn, I feel:


Empty Pockets Where Feelings Get Caught
1.5x5.5"; acrylic, ink, pencil, and oil pastels on black cardboard

Friday, March 17, 2017


Remember the other day I mentioned brain research's indicating that feeling gratitude leads to an upward spiral of happiness? Awesome, yes?

But guess what else?

Turns out, when you cannot find one single thing to be grateful for, it doesn't matter. You don't have to find anything. Remembering to search in the first place matters most.

From the research: Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

I'm in!

Many's the time I search really hard to find something to be grateful for when I look at what I've put on a canvas.

In fact, I've got my searchlight on right now. I'm irritated by my "messing up" the first of the two bookmarks in progress below (naming what one's feeling is another upward spiral, by the way, but I'll save that for another day), so now I'm searching both for gratitude and solutions to the problems I've created.

I'll let these refrigerate for a couple of days.

All good, I tell ya!

bookmark in progress
bookmark in progress

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fireside Chats

Fireside chats is the term used to describe a series of 30 evening radio conversations given by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1944.

My knowledge of history extends just enough to know that such fireside chats existed and that they were associated with Roosevelt. The term was familiar enough that it's the name I give to an annual get-together I have with long-time friend Wendy, at her home, beside a fire in her fireplace.

Our friendship doesn't go back to the '30's or '40's but, much to our surprise, does span several decades now. Is several the right word? Is several more than a few? Our friendship definitely spans more than a few decades. But I digress. Wendy and I have been friends for a long time.

We connected instantly when we met, and we can talk about anything anytime. Our friendship reminds me of summer camp friendships—we don't see each other every day, or even very often, but when together we pick up right where we left off, and we're all in.

We had one of our fireside chats a short while ago. The best. Always the best.

One of the topics of conversation was art and the many ways it can be shared. This bookmark's for you, Wendy!

You Don't Have to Knock to Come in the Door
1.5x5.5"; acrylic, paint markers, and oil pastels on black cardboard

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Plan B

Plan A, as reported yesterday, was to paint a bookmark to match the cover of a book I plan to read. Actually, I was going to paint two bookmarks and send the second to friend Sheila, letting her know that if she wanted to read The Door by Magda Szabó, here was a coordinating hand-painted place marker.

Plan B: I'm sending a different bookmark to Sheila. If she hopes to coordinate it with the cover of a book she wants to read, she first has to find the book—talk about choosing a book by its cover!

The Go-Aheadness of It All
1.5x5.5"; acrylic, ink, and oil pastel on black cardboard

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trickster Art

I have a collection of bookmarks I've painted, and I love finding just the right one to go with the cover of whatever book I read. I moseyed into my studio about a week ago with the idea of painting one to go with the neutrals on this book cover:

Tricksters were waiting for my arrival.

trickster start, work in progress
trickster start detail
trickster start detail
trickster start detail