Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Slapstick 12/12/17

I have 'rules' for my Slapstick inquiry.

And gosh-darned if I don't break 'em almost every time I set foot in my studio.

Not by design or out of I'll-show-you contrariness but because, I think, as I reflect back on the most recent series of six pieces, I gave myself a starting place and then trusted the emerging process.

The trusting wasn't conscious.

But I think I yielded in some way, let myself take one step and then another and another whether rule-compliant or not.

I created a launch pad, I kept showing up, my art met me halfway, and our collaboration unfolded—unevenly and with jockeying for position, but nonetheless unfolding through some mysterious force of its own.

To happy effect in this case.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Slapstick 12/11/17

Just spent a happy heuristic hour in my studio, an hour of flow.

A timeless stretch where challenges were just slightly ahead of talent or skill, and interest and motivation were high.

An engagement with color, light, line, paper, scissors, and glue which allowed me to discover and learn for myself what worked, what didn't.

A practical, hands-on process not guaranteed to be optimal or perfect, but invitingly sufficient for my immediate goals.



Trial and error.

The best.

Looking for Sky in Manhattan
4x5"; acrylic, china marker, ink, oil pastel, and collage on paper,
mounted on card stock

Favorite orientation?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Slapstick 12/8/17

A "short" "burst" of a good couple of hours!

Sunlight Showing the Inkstains
4x5"; acrylic, china marker, ink, oil pastel, and collage on paper,
mounted on card stock

Favorite orientation?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Slapstick 12/7/17

I paused today to reflect on my current so-named Slapstick inquiry.

Here's how I set it up—controls: slap it on, let it stick; variables: everything else.

Here's how it has played out so far:

• the inner turmoil I'd been feeling for weeks has taken leave of me for a good week now;
• on most days I have not worked in short quick bursts; on a few days I have;
• I have stumbled into generating a series that totally engages me;
• in that series I notice the interplay of two phases—an initial intuitive unfettered slap onto paper of paint, texture, pattern, and line and the subsequent detail-oriented resolving of ongoing challenging visual puzzles that emerge;
• I do catch myself fussing and getting detrimentally precious but can often tap into my self-designed guiding principles to slap something into place rather than fuss and to let it stick rather than get precious;
• until I forget again.

Onwards and sideways.

A Twenty-Foot Wooden Crate of Fifty-Cent Sweaters
4x5"; acrylic, grease pencil, and collage on paper,
mounted on card stock

Favorite orientation?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Slapstick 12/6/17

A favorite story:

When my son Jay was maybe 14 or so, I dropped him off at a local fishing hole one evening. On my way home I was aware of the many twists and turns my train of thought took as I drove, and I wondered where Jay's thoughts might meander while he fished. When I picked him up I asked.

Mom: Jay, what kinds of things did you think about while you were fishing?

Jay: Fishing.

Mom: Well, yeah, but what else did you think about?

Jay:  I studied the surface of the water to see where fish might be.

Mom: But what else?

Jay: Fishing.

I was incredulous.


When I paint, every now and then I experience that same grace of focus and flow. I pick up my fishing pole and study the surface of the water to see where the fish might be.

I had a few such moments today.

Hearing My Inner Voice Over the Cacophony
4x5"; acrylic, grease pencil, and collage on paper,
mounted on card stock

Favorite orientation?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Slapstick 12/5/17

Today: way more than five minutes, fewer than 60.

Pretty fast, yes?

A little slapstick joke there. Broad comedy, ya know?


Had great fun with yesterday's piece so I cut yesterday's entire start into postcard size pieces. Some will become fodder for collage with which to turn all the others into finished pieces.

Willing to Do the Grunt Work
4x5"; acrylic, grease pencil, and collage on paper,
mounted on card stock

Favorite orientation?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Slapstick 12/4/17

Slap, slap, slap.

Snip, snip, snip.

Oh, wait.

This is a slapstick inquiry, not a slapsnip inquiry.

Too late.

Not only too late to backtrack but also too late to rewind the clock and claim that I worked quickly, although I did generate a 9x12" start and bring to completion a 4x5" piece this afternoon.

After slapping:

acrylic and china marker on 9x12" paper;

I cut two 4x5" postcards from the start above, and then snipped pieces from one card to collage onto the other.

After snipping and sticking:

No One in Town Wanted Dr. Byron's Counsel
4x5"; acrylic, china marker, and collage on paper,
mounted on heavy manila stock

Friday, December 1, 2017

Slapstick, an Inquiry

I've been experiencing pronounced inner turmoil in my painting practice of late. I'm hoping the situation will prove to be like occasions I remember from when my children would go into stretches of wild disequilibrium as babies and toddlers, only to suddenly pop out the other side sporting two new teeth or pulling themselves to a stand or surprising me by speaking in complete sentences.

In the interim, in the thick of my own current wild disequilibrium, what to do?

When the word slapstick bubbled up yesterday, I paid attention.

I looked it up. The definition was pretty much what I expected, and it satisfied my curiosity about the literal origin of the word.

The best part, though, was the language used to define:

boisterous action
farcical situations and jokes
broad comedy


Sounds like as good a way as any to frame a new painting inquiry!

So here's what I'm thinking—controls: slap it on, let it stick; variables: everything else.

I'll work in quick short bursts, letting boisterousness, farce, and horseplay find their way into expression without regard for outcome. Then I'll stop. No fussing, no revision, no extended time.

I'll let whatever emerges, whether little jokes or large disasters, stick, and I'll post as is.

Today, putting the above into practice, I moved along guided by impulse and intuition.

I experienced bunches of discord as well as periodic moments of flow.

I didn't 'finish' this piece—I stopped.

Here it is, as is.

Probably Out of Earshot
4x5"; acrylic, ink, pencil, and oil pastel on heavy manila stock

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Introducing Slapstick


The word bubbled up this morning out of who knows where.

Followed by these words: slap it on, let it stick.

I grabbed yesterday's postcard start, worked quickly, slap, slap, slap. Messed stuff up right and left, let it stick. Wanted to dribble paint. Dribbled paint.


Don't love it, but I'm lettin' it stick.

4x5"; acrylic, latex, collage, ink, and pencil on heavy manila stock

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Beggars Still on Foot

Feels as though houseguests just left, or I just finished a book, or I just emptied the dishwasher and put the kitchen to bed for the night. Something has ended—a visit, or a story, or a day's work.

Or two months' worth of working on a series of a dozen paintings.

Now, something new begins.

Yesterday I reported my intention to clean up my studio. Though I didn't say so, I also had the idea to both let a few days unfold without painting and to shift gears to a larger scale when I did pick up my brush again.

As the saying goes, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

As I say, hahahahahahahahaha!

In other words: (a) my studio remains riotously out of control, and (b) I started a new painting a few minutes ago—(c) a small one.

Felt great! I acted on impulse, worked quickly and for a brief time only, have no idea where I'll go with this.

work in progress

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Quick & Quixotic, A Retrospective

Here I offer a little retrospective of my Quick & Quixotic painting/series.

Starting with a 12x16" piece of unstretched canvas, I made marks, pasted collage, painted, and continued doing more of the same until I reached the following seascape.

working title: Quick & Quixotic

Then, I cut the work-in-progress into ten smaller pieces.

working title: Quick & Quixotic Cut-Ups

From there, I took the ten smaller pieces, one of which I cut even further into half-inch-square tiles, and developed twelve completed paintings, most of which—woo hoo!—turned out to be happy explorations that pleased my eye. I fought hard on many days with one challenge, or two, or ten, but numerous little moments of grace made themselves known in paint. I am so grateful.

Surface, Sky, Whirlpool, Wave
Helpers of Each Other in All the Chances and Changes in the World
Sleeping in the Room with the Drying Herbs
 A Hooked Rug of Fabric Scraps, Rose and Green and Purple
A Happenso Bookmark
They Sat Drinking Hot Cider
For Five Minutes She Suspended Judgment and Fell Silent
I Did Have a Trouble or Two on My Mind
An Awkward Place Full of Awkward Questions
The Patter of Rain on Windowpanes
The Good Order of the Toolshed
It Had a Beginning That It Had Forgotten

It was two months ago (yikes, two months!) that I took note of a strong desire to paint quickly, freely, and without giving a hoot, and, in response, started painting—quickly, freely, and without giving a hoot. The painting's working title became the now familiar Quick & Quixotic, a.k.a. q&q

More often than not, though, over the course of those two months (again I say, yikes, two months!), I found myself painting other than in the carefree, paint-faster-than-your-mind-can-think mode I wished for. 

And still wish for.

I'm going to clean up my studio and see what happens next.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Alternating Current/ Q&Q Cut-Up #12

I'm no scientist but as I worked on the final three pieces of my Quick & Quixotic 'series' I think there's a chance I may have been powered by alternating current, i.e. electrical current which periodically reverses direction.

For certain, I was not powered by energy that flows in only one direction. 

I was all over the place.

Further, there must have been a huge amount of energy that needed discharging because why else would I have persisted with pieces that bedeviled, frustrated, and otherwise exasperated the living daylights out of me in process? 

I was the one generating these fool's errands to begin with, for Pete's sake! 

I could have pulled the plug at any time.

Did I?

I did not.

At the moment, I am running on low voltage—and happily so. I have completed the series.

And, I've thrown away the remaining half-inch canvas tiles!

It Had a Beginning That It Had Forgotten
4x5"; acrylic, latex, canvas collage tiles, and oil pastel on paper

Friday, November 24, 2017

Q&Q Cut-Up #11

Seven weeks ago, I was about three days into starting a 12x16" painting adventure.

Today, four square inches of that early-stages work-in-progress—long since transformed beyond recognition, and chopped into tiny canvas tiles in the process—strut their stuff in an entirely different composition.

I don't know where this stuff comes from.

The Good Order of the Toolshed
5x5"; acrylic, latex, canvas tiles, collage, ink, watercolor pencil, and oil pastel on paper

Thursday, November 23, 2017


I read a novel by Jan Karon years ago in which Episcopalian minister Father Tim focuses one Sunday on a passage from the Bible whose message is to give thanks in all circumstances.

My memory of that part of the book may be wildly off the mark, but that's of no concern. The gift I received was the invitation to give thanks no matter what.

No matter what.


That is a radical idea.

I don't always remember to practice what Father Tim brought to my attention, but I inevitably enter a better space when I do.

My prayer of gratitude is this today: I am grateful—even if I don't know why (I don't), and even if I don't feel grateful (I don't)—for the struggle and the not-knowing and the self-questioning I experienced while engaged with this work in progress today.

work in progress
5x5"; canvas tiles and paper
working title: q&q cut-up #10b